Leeds & West Yorkshire

West Yorkshire fire officer's deaths warning to MPs over cuts

Martyn Redfearn
Image caption Mr Redfearn said work in communities, such as in homes and schools, to prevent fires would be at risk

One of West Yorkshire's senior fire officers has claimed lives will be lost if planned cuts to fire authority budgets in metropolitan areas go ahead.

The Commons Local Government Committee met on Monday to examine funding of fire and rescue services.

Martyn Redfearn, West Yorkshire's Assistant Chief Fire Officer, said cuts would put fire prevention work at risk.

Fire Minister Bob Neill said the comments were "not justified by any evidence that I have seen".

'Blunt Yorkshireman'

The heads of several metropolitan fire and rescue services told the committee they understood the need to make savings, but they wanted a "fair, flat-rate cut" across the country.

Mr Neill denied that metropolitan areas were being hit unfairly by funding cuts.

Asked by the committee whether he thought lives would be lost as a result of cuts, Mr Redfearn said: "Being a blunt Yorkshireman the answer's yes, but long term.

"It's not going to happen next year, it'll happen in four or five year's time because of the reduction in prevention work."

Mr Redfearn said the West Yorkshire service was phasing in cuts gradually, while "putting resources where they need to be".

He said: "If it's cut in the next two years, just point blank cut, then what we'll end up with is all prevention work will stop and people who are most at risk will not be getting the service that they should do.

"And the fact is prevention and protection is what actually stops people dying."

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