18 fire engines unavailable each day
Up to 18 fire engines are unavailable to respond to emergencies each day in North Yorkshire because of chronic staff shortages, according to the Fire Brigades Union.
The FBU says this is resulting in there not being enough firefighters to operate fire engines at many stations, leaving these vehicles redundant in the event of an emergency.
Steve Howley, secretary of the FBU in north Yorkshire, said: “The situation has never been as desperate as it is today. This is the first time during my 19 years as a firefighter that I’ve witnessed an entire crew of firefighters being removed to prop up shortfalls at other stations.
“Senior officers are playing Russian roulette with people’s lives. It is completely unacceptable. You simply cannot run an emergency service on a wing and a prayer.”
Last December the Combined Fire Authority (CFA), Councillors representing the areas of North Yorkshire County Council and the City of York Council, voted through cuts to full time firefighter jobs and the introduction of smaller vehicles crewed by less firefighters.
Now fire stations in Scarborough, Harrogate, Northallerton, Acomb and Huntington have effectively been downgraded, with full time staff removed or reduced for hours at a time.
FBU officials expect the situation to worsen further as cuts voted through in December increase pressure on the service. Steve Howley added “Already senior fire service managers are having to paper over the cracks by taking the unprecedented steps of removing immediately available fully crewed fire engines at some stations in order to fill staffing gaps at other stations. Emergency cover is becoming a postcode lottery.”
Original source: Fire Brigades Union