Firefighters are warning that huge government cuts to the fire service will put lives at risk.
That was the message as hundreds of FBU union members gathered in London's Westminster Central Hall for their annual lobby of parliament today, Wednesday.
The union says 1,500 firefighters’ jobs have already gone, and 6,000 could lose their jobs by 2015.
That would be around one in five firefighters across the whole fire service, with hundreds of fire engines taken out of service and fire stations closed.
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack defended the union’s new advertising campaign, which targets the Tories under the slogan “They slash, you burn”.
It has been criticised as “offensive” by the coalition and the right wing press. “But I make no apologies,” said Wrack. “The cuts will indeed cost lives.
“It’s not rocket science is it? If they close your local fire station, when you dial 999 it will take longer for firefighters to get to that emergency incident.”
The union has put together a report exposing the fact that cuts will increase these fire response times, which are already rising. This will make fires more dangerous.
The new wave of cuts is set to be unveiled as part of Tory chancellor George Osborne’s “autumn statement” on 5 December. But in many areas the fire axe is already being swung.
Dave Williams of West Yorkshire FBU told the lobby about the struggle to stop fire station closures there. “The campaign we’re running is no cuts,” he said.
“We cannot accept robbing Peter to pay Paul. We will not stand by and let them decimate our fire service.”