Fire Authority accuse firefighters in Grays of "misleading the public" over cuts

Fire fighter Andrew Knowles, Alan Chinn-Shaw from the Fire Brigade Union, Grays Labour Cllr Cathy Kent, ex Fire Fighter Paul Adams, and Polly Billington.

Fire fighter Andrew Knowles, Alan Chinn-Shaw from the Fire Brigade Union, Grays Labour Cllr Cathy Kent, ex Fire Fighter Paul Adams, and Polly Billington.

First published in News Thurrock Gazette: Matt Abbott by , Chief Reporter

ESSEX Fire Service bosses have hit out at Grays firefighters’ attempts to “mislead the public” over cuts at the station.

Firemen from Grays have been striking over cuts in recent weeks and highlighting concerns that the Grays station could lose its Aerial Ladder Platform fire engine and crew.

But the Essex Fire Authority claims the Grays station is losing its “rarely used” rescue tenders, which release casualties from road collisions.

It insists there are no plans to scrap the ladder platform appliance - but one crew will operate it and another appliance, rather than two crews operating one each.

It is hoped this will free up those appliances - like ordinary fire engines - which are more commonly needed.

But Andrew Knowles, a firefighter based at Grays, said: “Grays has more high risk sites than in the whole of Hertfordshire, and yet the Authority wants us to cover this area with reduced equipment and staff which has serious implications for residents safety.

“Cuts will make protecting the residents of Grays much harder and increases the risks if there was an incident.”

Thurrock’s prospective Labour MP Polly Billington joined the firefighter’s picket line last Friday.

She said: “Because our local industry, including docks, oil depots and chemical companies are close to people’s homes, we need to protect ourselves from potential disaster at any of these places. Reducing staff and equipment will make that harder.”

But a spokesman for the Essex Fire Authority said the authority is introducing more high-tech cutting equipment.

“ECFRS can confirm today that there are no plans to remove the ALP or introduce crewing arrangements which will leave the station with only one frontline appliance.

“The rescue tender at Grays attends an average of less than two calls a week and isn’t put to work at all of those incidents.”

The authority added that Grays crews attend 50 per cent fewer calls than they did 10 years ago and that in the last three years, the ALP has attended less than 50 incidents.

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