Fewer Shropshire firefighters than 10 years ago

There are more than 40 fewer firefighters in Shropshire than at the start of the decade, according to new figures.

A total of 42 firefighter roles have been axed in the county since 2010 and union bosses said years of cuts had left fire services across the country in "crisis".

The fall is a decline of seven per cent. The West Midlands overall has seen a drop of 24 per cent, with 465 fewer on duty than nine years ago.

Nationally there has been a 19 per cent cut in firefighter numbers since the turn of the decade. There have been signs the trend is reversing with a one per cent increase in the last 12 months but the union says recruitment has not gone far enough.

The FBU said that as firefighter numbers had gone down fires had increased, with a 10 per cent spike in England over the last year

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: "Fire and rescue services are in crisis after years of brutal cuts – and this year’s measly increase in posts is wholly insufficient to plug the gaps.

Struggling

“We cannot allow firefighters’ life-saving work to go unrecognised. The Chancellor must fund firefighter recruitment and end the years of real-term pay cuts for firefighters. Our communities need more firefighters – and the government needs to reflect the work they do in their pay cheques.”

Mr Wrack said the recent Derbyshire dam emergency showed fire crews were struggling to cope.

He added: "“The Whaley Bridge dam collapse saw fire and rescue services stretched to the limit. Firefighters were pulled from every brigade in the region, and from as far as Chichester and London

“If this government is serious about tackling the climate emergency, it needs to invest in our frontline defences – and it is firefighters who are tackling wildfires and rescuing people stranded in flooding. Whaley Bridge will not be the last extreme weather event to stretch fire and rescue resources.”

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service’s chief fire officer, Rod Hammerton, said: “Recognising that budgets were going to be constrained we took clear action to think of more flexible and innovative ways of crewing for appliances to make sure our front line was sustained, and that would not have been possible to achieve without the engagement and support of the Fire Brigades Union and the workforce.

“That being said, we are now in a position where we are increasingly lean and any significant cuts would have an impact.”

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