Fire Union 'shocked' at further cuts announcement

Fire engine generic Chief Fire Officer Lee Howell, has announced that 40 back room posts are likely to go

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The Fire Brigades Union said it was "shocked and confused" after Devon's fire chief announced an extra £2.5m worth of cuts.

Chief Fire Officer Lee Howell announced 40 back room posts were likely to go, on top of plans to axe 149 frontline firefighters.

Trevor French, from the Devon branch of the union, said the final settlement had not yet been announced.

Mr Howell said the cuts were on top of the £5.5m already planned.

Mr French said: "We are all a bit shocked and confused at the moment.

On-call system

"In an internal correspondence yesterday we were told additional savings would have to be made, but where £2.5m cuts come from I just don't know.

"Previously, the chief had assured us he wouldn't make any decision until he receives his budget from the government."

Cuts in Plymouth could see three fire engines and the city's aerial ladder platform moved from full-time crewing to an on-call system.

Ilfracombe's fire station, in north Devon, also faces being moved to just on-call.

A second fire engine in Torquay in south Devon could also go from full-time, along with a second fire engine in Taunton, Somerset.

'Care passionately'

Torbay Liberal Democrat MP Adrian Sanders, said he was writing to every member of the fire authority member, urging them to abandon plans to downgrade one of Torquay's fire appliances to being just on-call.

He said the move would result in "increasing considerably the length of time it takes to mobilise for responding to emergency call outs".

Mr Howell said: "I care passionately about the service and I'd rather not have to make savings. But I can't bury my head in the sand and hope it goes away.

"We have been lobbying the government hard. We are doing everything we can, however we don't control what government gives us."

A final decision on the budget for the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service is due to be made by the fire authority on 10 July.

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