Jack Dromey, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Erdington, today warned that people may die, there will be more fires and greater cost to business if the Government goes ahead with cuts to the West Midlands Fire Service of up to 40%. His warning comes days before a major announcement on the spending settlement for the Fire and Rescue Service.
Over the course of the last Parliament the government stripped away 30% from the fire and rescue budget, resulting in the loss of nearly 7,000 frontline jobs, including 275 firefighters in the West Midlands. Individual fire stations are at breaking point with firefighters covering larger areas on watch. There has also been a reduction in the number of operational fire appliances by 24%.
Jack Dromey said:
“With the Department of Communities and Local Government Spending Settlement due shortly, now is the time for the government to decide whether to put at risk people’s lives or not to gamble with public safety.
Yet further cuts to the fire and rescue services of up to 40% over the next five years will mean that people may die, there will be more fires and there will be greater cost to business.
With the expected cuts will come 300 fewer firefighters in the West Midlands and the threat of station closures; with station closures come longer response times. But a minute longer reaching a fire can mean the difference between life and death. It is unacceptable that this government inflicts cuts which mean that preventable deaths will occur. In London we have already seen a man’s death in a fire that could have been prevented but for the closure of his local fire station and I do not want to see that happening in Erdington or anywhere else in the West Midlands.
Cuts will also mean more fires. The Fire Service do excellent work in communities across the West Midlands on fire prevention and best practice to avoid fires. With reduced budgets, however, prevention work has already been cut by 39% in the West Midlands. More fires are inevitable and more fires with less firefighters will put the public at risk.
More fires in homes and businesses will mean that insurance companies will have to pay out more, pushing up insurance premiums. Cuts to the fire and rescue services could hit everyone through higher insurance payments.”