Hertfordshire fire crew number cuts agreed
Plans to cut the size of fire crews in Hertfordshire have been approved by county councillors.
The number of firefighters on standard fire engines will be reduced from five to four.
Response times will improve because crews will not have to wait for a fifth member, the Tory-run council said.
The Fire Brigades' Union (FBU) said services "shouldn't artificially stop the clock to improve statistics and make senior officers look good".
The proposals in the service's Integrated Risk Management Plan have been approved after a public consultation.
Councillor Terry Hone, who is responsible for community safety, said: "[They] will be able to move fire engines out quicker, because they won't have to wait for a fifth operative to arrive."
He said it was "not unusual" for Herts Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) engines to be dispatched with four firefighters.
FBU Eastern secretary, Riccardo la Torre, said the Fire and Rescue Service Act said services must "provide the correct equipment, services and personnel necessary to protect life and property".
"Four firefighters on a fire engine as standard simply isn't enough to do this," he said.
"Every firefighter in a crew of five has a vital, risk-critical job to perform. Which one of these jobs are HFRS asking us to stop?
"We need to arrive on time with a safe number of firefighters and resources."
Proposals to try out two smaller response vehicles at Watford and Berkhamsted fire stations - a rapid response vehicle and an intermediate response vehicle - have also been agreed but moves to take away one of the two standard fire engines based at Watford during the trial have been dropped.
Chief fire officer Darryl Keen said the new plan "sets us up to meet the county's changing needs" and it had "taken on board" any concerns.
"The welfare of our residents and firefighters has always been our number one priority, which is why we would not introduce any new measures without a full and thorough assessment," he said.