Manchester

Greater Manchester fire service plans support staff cuts

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service Image copyright GMFRS
Image caption The brigade is facing a savings target of £12.8m over three years

More than 100 support roles at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service are at risk under cash-saving plans.

Proposals by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority also include merging six stations in Bolton, Manchester and Stockport at three sites.

Bosses also suggested the number of firefighters riding on each appliance should drop from five to four.

Fire commissioner Andy Burnham said the reforms delivered a "back to basics" and "frontline first" approach.

Gary Keary, from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), called the proposals "very disappointing".

The brigade faces a savings target of £12.8m over three years and has seen its funding from central government cut by more than £20m since 2010.

Under the proposals, which will go to a public consultation later this year, the number of appliances would be reduced from 56 to 47, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

No cuts to frontline staff are planned but about 113 support staff roles could be axed, including youth engagement, community and administration posts.

Image caption Andy Burnham (right) visited crews fighting a moorland blaze on Winter Hill in 2018

Bosses said average response times were expected to increase by a "negligible" 10 seconds.

Greater Manchester mayor Mr Burnham said merger locations "will be carefully chosen to ensure there is no detrimental impact on response times" and "would actually lead to an improvement for parts of Stockport".

The proposals aim to tackle issues identified by the Kerslake Report, such as a lack of communication with other public services.

It comes after Mr Burnham opted not to increase the fire service precept part of household tax bills for 2019/20.

The mayor said "we are doing everything we can" to "maintain the level of service" despite "continued austerity".

Manchester FBU representative Mr Keary said: "The FBU is opposed to all cuts to frontline cover, this would include the closure of fire stations, the removal of fire appliances and the reduction of firefighters."

He said the fire service had been "decimated" by budget cuts so "on top of that any further cuts are very disappointing".

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