AT least five fire stations could be axed and 150 firefighters put out of work after another government funding blow, Merseyside fire chiefs said today, putting stations in Aintree, Allerton, Eccleston, Heswall and West Kirby at risk.
The fire authority – which is already dealing with £9m budget cuts from 2011 to 2013 – is expecting to be told to save a minimum of £8.5m from 2013 to 2015.
Eleven fire engines would be stripped from service, with frontline posts culled across the region.
The worst case feared by the authority when ministers announce the service’s grant settlement in December is that £17m may have to be found.
Chief fire officer Dan Stephens today warned there was “no possibility” that non-frontline cuts would deliver those savings.
Merseyside has already shed 92 firefighter jobs and 80 support staff in a bid to address its current budget black hole and staff are subject to a three-year pay freeze.
Mr Stephens said: “All we can assume is that Merseyside is cut in line with the national average, which will be around £8.5m. But if we are treated as we were in the first two years, it will be two times that amount.
“The most concerning thing for me is that any fat I may have had as chief fire officer to deliver savings has gone.
“We have already picked the low-hanging fruit and there are now no easy decision for us to make. Anything we cut now will have an impact.”