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Have your say on Essex fire service cuts
THE people of Essex can have their say on the future of fire stations, firefighters and fire engines in the county as the fire service braces itself for major cuts to its funding.
You can take part in a survey by clicking on the link with this report.
Gordon Hunter, the deputy chief fire officer for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, admits fire stations could close, jobs could be lost and there could be fewer fire engines on the streets as the most radical overhaul of the service ever takes place.
But he wants to minimise the impact of the cuts and wants the public’s help to make savings.
He said: “This is a major review of everything we do and we want everyone to play their part because we are all in this together.
“We have been working over the past 18 months on services and doing our best to save money.”
The fire service has been saving money by not filling roles, cutting costs and looking at ways to raise money. But if cuts of between 25 per cent and 40 per cent are confirmed this autumn when the coalition Government announces the results of its public spending review, everything will change.
Mr Hunter said: “At the moment it is an unknown area. Even 25 per cent is a massive cut. Imagine your wages cut by 25 per cent – you would have to change your whole style of living.
“It is no different for the fire service. We still have to deliver a service but have to radically look at everything we do, cut back on the things we like to do and add to the products we deliver.
“The worst case scenario is 40 per cent cuts. We would have to look at the fire service across the county – travel times, closing stations and staff cuts. Essex County Fire and Rescue Service will get through this, but we will be different.”
Mr Hunter used the example of the new fire station at Rayleigh Weir helping to save money. He said it was in a better location, which improved services and meant other stations could be closed.
This could be introduced countywide, but the decision will be taken based on a combination of risk, incidents over the past five years and expert knowledge.
He said: “Essex is such a diverse county. The south is very industrial, so higher risk, and north more rural. If we were siting stations today, they would be put in different places and we would probably not have as many. A big station in an area could give as good a response as three small stations."
- CLICK ON THE LINK TO COMPLETE THE SURVEY
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