Cambridgeshire firefighters took to the streets today to protest a ‘dangerous’ reduction to fire crews in Cambridgeshire – and they did so at the official opening by The Princess Royal of Huntingdon Fire Station and Service Training Centre.
Firefighters in the region have continued to raise concerns regarding a new policy, trialled since January, which has seen Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) cut the number of on-call firefighters attending incidents in Cambridgeshire to three per crew.
A minimum number of five firefighters is needed to respond to incidents where lives are at risk. A fire engine with only three firefighters on board will be forced to wait for back-up to arrive so that they can properly, and safely, respond to life-threatening incidents.
Firefighters say they could face a “terrible decision”: wait outside a burning building, or risk their jobs and lives by going in.
Mark Harriss, FBU Cambridgeshire brigade secretary said: “Today, Cambridgeshire firefighters are making it clear that we won’t quietly accept public and firefighter safety being put at risk.
“A crew of three firefighters is not equipped to safely enter a burning building. No fire service should be putting their firefighters in this dangerous position.
“New fire stations and fire engines are useless without firefighters. We have lost around 12,000 firefighter posts in the UK since 2010.
“We need urgent investment and recruitment instead of firefighters’ lives being put on the line in this way. Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service must start listening and end this dangerous policy now.”
Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “On many occasions the crew of three is able to deal effectively with the incident and cancel oncoming crews, so they can return to their own towns or villages to be ready to respond again”.