Archive article from The Socialist Issue 516
Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/2008/516/np2416.htm
Fire cuts threat to our public safety
DEVON AND Somerset's Chief Fire Officer (CFO), Paul Young, was stopped recently from removing dedicated fire crews from aerial platforms (which are needed in larger fires). He now plans to remove full-time fire cover from Exmouth, Ilfracombe, Paignton and Plympton in Devon. Such cuts have had fatal consequences elsewhere, such as Newquay in Cornwall.
Jim Lowe, Devon Socialist Party
Local Fire Brigades Union (FBU) activists and Socialist Party members have both collected many signatures against the cuts across Devon. Some opponents of cuts try to plead a special case for their town to gain a temporary reprieve, but this strategy would disastrously undermine the unity needed to bin the proposal.
At a recent anti-cuts meeting in Ilfracombe, FBU secretary Trevor French condemned the Fire Authority's attempts to set "one station against another as a means of being able to divide and conquer."
For public safety, all areas at least the size of Ilfracombe (a town of about 10,000 people) need full-time crews. Even the CFO conceded that simply maintaining a 'retained crew' would increase response times.
A Tory member of the Fire Authority said aerial platform cuts should be looked at again rather than making staffing cuts. However, all possible cuts must be stopped as well as threatened privatisation measures. Only a few months ago a large fire in Ilfracombe needed a quick response from the aerial platform in Barnstaple.
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