Cambridgeshire firefighters 'shocked' as changes 'nodded through'

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Two fire stations in Cambridgeshire are to be merged at a new specially built location as part of an improvement plan for the service.

Fire chiefs have decided to close Burwell and Swaffham Bulbeck stations.

The county fire authority said a rescue vehicle would be retained at Huntingdon but would be crewed differently.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said it was "shocked" proposals had been agreed without public consultation and they feared for the safety of the public.

Burwell fire station is to move to a plot of land next to the existing station. Six new fire pumps would be bought and a training facility introduced there.

'Ultimately improved'

A reserve crew operating county-wide is to be established as a back up to crews dealing with local 999 calls and for large incidents.

Kerry Baigent, Cambridgeshire FBU brigade organiser, said: "These proposals were nodded through without any consultation with the public who may not fully understand the issues.

"This is not about jobs but about cover for road traffic accidents and serious incidents."

The union is also considering action and said they would not rule anything out.

Chris Strickland, Cambridgeshire's deputy chief fire officer, said: "These proposals are about improving our ability to deliver a service and are not about cuts.

"We're not looking to save any money. We're ensuring that the service is providing the best service possible to taxpayers.

"There will be no loss of jobs, no reduction in the number of whole time staff, and the ability to crew front line fire appliances will ultimately be improved now our proposals have been approved."

The fire service has so far achieved £4.2m in budget savings by reorganising support services and the operational command structure, which resulted in the cutting of 65 jobs.

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