Firefighters in Essex keep jobs under £10m cuts plan

Firefighters in Essex have been told they will not lose their jobs as part of the fire service's plans to cut £10m from its budget.

The fire service proposals include a freeze on recruitment of firefighters and Canvey Island losing its full-time crews in favour of retained crews.

Other fire stations will lose a firefighter from each watch who will be deployed elsewhere.

The Essex Fire Authority will discuss the proposal later this month.

Brentwood will lose a full-time crew to be covered by one full-time crew and one retained crew, while the cover at Dunmow will be boosted, with one of the two retained crews being made full-time. This is because of its proximity to Stansted Airport.

'Prudent' action

Chief fire officer David Johnson said they could guarantee there would be no redundancies for uniformed staff for the next two years.

He said he was quite confident there would not be any redundancies after that.

"We've been very prudent with our money," he said. "We've managed to cut some £5m from our back office already, but if there's another £5m of cuts to come, that can only come from changing the way we crew certain appliances on the frontline."

He said that using more retained crews would mean there would be a "slight delay" in response times.

'Digest changes'

Nick Mayes, of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), said the cuts were not as bad as first feared, but that any cuts within the fire service and the response times were "very serious indeed".

He said that cutting the Canvey Island cover could be dangerous, particularly because of the limited access to the island and the fact there was a gas and petrochemical plant there.

Mr Mayes did not rule out action being taken by members of the union.

"We need a chance for members to digest these changes, and then they'll approach the union and decide whether they take action or not."

Retained firefighters are fully trained and paid a retainer to be on standby. They are paid when they are called out.

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