Anger as Tyne and Wear fire service sees third highest fall in firefighter numbers in the country

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service has had the joint-third biggest drop in the number of firefighters of any fire service in the UK since 2010.

Thursday, 5th September 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 5th September 2019, 10:44 am
The Fire Brigades Union says cuts to the service has led to "overstretched and underpaid firefighters".

According to figures obtained by the Fire Brigade’s Union (FBU) under Freedom of Information, both Tyne and Wear and Cleveland have seen a 31% cut in personnel since 2010: 292 firefighters for Tyne and Wear, 196 for Cleveland.

Durham Fire and Rescue saw a drop of 14%, or 80 firefighters. The UK average across the 48 services listed was 19%, a total of 11,468 firefighters.

The Union also says that pay has been cut in real terms by £6,705.69 since 2008, and that firefighters are currently being consulted on whether to accept a 2% pay increase.

Fire Brigades Union general secretary, Matt Wrack.

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However, firefighter posts nationally have increased by 318 this year – a 1% rise.

The FBU announcement was made before Chancellor Sajid Javid had set out his spending review.

The union’s general secretary, Matt Wrack, said: “This shameless government is doing nothing to ease the pressure on overstretched and underpaid firefighters, all while making dubious claims of spending elsewhere.

“Fire and rescue services are in crisis after years of brutal cuts – and this year’s measly increase in posts is wholly insufficient to plug the gaps.

“We cannot allow firefighters’ life-saving work to go unrecognised. The Chancellor must fund firefighter recruitment and end the years of real-term pay cuts for firefighters.”

John Pratt, area manager for service delivery at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said: “We continuously monitor risk in our community to ensure appropriate staffing levels both now and in the future.

“With a number of our current firefighters retiring, we recruited 23 new firefighters in October 2018. A new training course begins this month and we plan to recruit again next year.”

In 2018-19 there was a 9% rise on the previous year in the number of fires attended to in England. Although this was a 24% drop in the total for 2009-10.

In his spending review, Chancellor Sajid Javed said the Government would “turn the page on austerity” and announced that Home Office day-to-day spending would increase by 6.3%.