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Jersey firefighter concern over impact of cuts on fire service

  • 9-12-2015

Jersey's fire service workforce could be reduced by 10 per cent because of cuts, according to a firefighter.

In an open letter posted on Facebook, Craig Channing said cutting the number of firefighters could affect response in the first few minutes of an emergency.

Mr Channing, a member of the fireman's union, said call-outs are going up, with 1,300 last year.

The fire service said it would aim to minimise the impact of cuts.

Ministers have said government has to find £145 million in annual savings by 2019, although long-term details have not been decided.

Assistant Home Affairs Minister Connétable Deidre Mezbourian said, however, the £6.4 million fire budget will fall 2.6 per cent by 2016, with three firefighter jobs currently unfilled.

She said: "The current vacancies do not directly affect the frontline emergency response.

"Maintaining operational effectiveness and the safety of the public will always be a priority and a minimum of ten firefighters remain ready to respond to emergencies.

"These savings are being achieved through managing three firefighter vacancies: two multifunctional firefighter posts and one fire prevention post."

There are currently 70 full-time firefighters in the Jersey service.

Mr Channing said: "I worry because the proposed changes could lead to a modern fire and rescue service that is not as effective in those first few minutes and seconds that we have preached so often about.

"Reducing the number of potential firefighters will inhibit our ability to save life, but also protect their safety while attending incidents.

"The fires that do occur are not 50 per cent smaller, so why would it make sense to reduce the resources we all pay for to tackle them?"

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2015 BBC

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