TWO years ago Rotherham lost its second pump at night time. The fire authority said it was an efficiency saving and an additional pump would be placed at Parkway on day staffing...this never happened.
Since we lost our second pump the fire authority has banked hundreds of thousands of pounds (your money) into its reserve pot which now stands at over £25m. The latest proposed fire service cuts will axe 83 firefighters in South Yorkshire and reduce staffing on every appliance from five to four. To effect a safe rescue from a house fire requires nine personnel (currently two pumps), and if we reduce staffing to crews of four a third pump will be required.
I ask all readers to consider this; if you were unfortunate enough to have a fire in your house at night where will these pumps come from? How long will they take to arrive? Our fire safety literature states ‘every second counts’, so what will the effect of additional minutes mean to you?
The fire authority has consistently underspent its annual budget — your money, your fire authority precept was recently increased by 2.99 per cent (on your council tax) yet your services dramatically reduced (hardly seems fair does it?).
The fifth person on each appliance provides a vital role at operational incidents in order to effect a safe rescue. The fire authority states we currently ride with crews of four approximately 32pc of the time; this is true but again unnecessary considering it has £25m to spend, and currently all recruiting has been suspended.
When Rotherham lost its second pump at night we were assured we would not drop below a crew of five. This assurance was given by the two Rotherham councillors who sat on the fire authority at the time.
The proposed cuts are dangerous to the public and to firefighters alike, and are totally unnecessary.
The fire brigades union (FBU) has started a petition to force a debate at Sheffield City Council and as of Tuesday over 6,200 signatures have been collected and submitted —that debate will now take place.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am a firefighter based here in Rotherham with over 19 years service. I will oppose these cuts. I am a resident of Rotherham (lived all my life in Rotherham) and as such I will oppose these cuts. I am the fire brigade representative here in Rotherham and as such I will oppose these cuts. Will you? Please support your firefighters and please be safe.
Richard Beecher, FBU divisional rep for Rotherham