As North Yorkshire fire-fighters voted for industrial action to protect public safety following planned cuts to the Fire Service’s emergency response, Labour councillors again led the call to stop the reduction in the number of fire-fighters employed in North Yorkshire at a Fire Authority meeting last Wednesday.
One year on from the Fire Authority's decision to introduce Tactical Response Vehicles (TRVs) which carry fewer fire-fighters, Labour called for more fire-fighters to be deployed in each vehicle, meaning that crews called out in major incidents will not have to wait for back-up before tackling a fire.
NY Fire Authority Member Cllr Danny Myers said:
‘These cuts, due to be implemented early next year will mean that North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service may no longer be able to provide a basic level of protection to the general public.
‘This decision was made a year ago and now, with only two months until the changes are to begin, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is still to produce a written policy as to how - with fewer firefighters – these smaller vehicles will contribute to safely fighting fires.
‘These continued Tory cuts to essential public services are of grave concern, in this case potentially putting public safety at risk.
‘The real issue is that there are currently not enough fire-fighters in North Yorkshire, and they are regularly being re-deployed from their base station to other stations to fill staff shortages. Some stations have been so severely understaffed that there is not enough crew cover to operate a standard fire engine.
‘There are no plans to recruit, so in order to keep the rising first responder attendance times down, from February 2017 the fire service will send a vehicle with fewer fire fighters that will then have to wait for back-up with more equipment to arrive at the incident.
‘The Fire Authority is rushing headlong into implementing this decision, without pausing for consensus to ensure that this is the correct model for future fire cover. Staff understandably have very serious concerns for public safety, and I urge the North Yorkshire Fire Service to listen and make every effort to resolve this dispute through dialogue in order to bring an end to the planned industrial action.’