Leicestershire Fire Service admits 'cuts will be noticeable'

Image caption Firefighters protested against the proposed cuts over fears it could cost lives

A fire chief has admitted planned cuts to the service may be noticed by the public, if they are implemented.

Dave Webb spoke after Leicestershire's Combined Fire Authority (CFA) met to approve a three-month consultation over its need to save £7.5m.

It will write to the government to ask to increase council tax by £5 but has also outlined cutting about 100 firefighters and three engines.

The Fire Brigades Union said cuts to a "lean service" would put lives at risk.

Mr Webb, chief fire officer, said: "[The cuts] would be challenging to individuals, it would be challenging for firefighters because they have to cope with fewer people potentially on the fire engine.

"Members of the public would probably notice the difference if they called the fire service. Probably not with the first fire engine arriving but certainly the second, in some areas, would be slower than it currently is."

What has the fire authority proposed?

  • Reduction of appliances at Loughborough, Oakham and one other station in Leicester
  • Cutting firefighters on engines from five to four
  • Charging for false fire alarms after nine repeated call outs in a year
  • Increasing the council tax precept by up to £10 a year

The service currently employs 400 firefighters who serve the county from 20 stations.

A report commissioned by the authority in June showed the number of incidents firefighters were called to and attended had continued to fall over the last 10 years.

Graham Vaux, from the union said Leicestershire's service was already lean and if the proposals are implemented the public will have to wait longer for an engine.

"If we have less than five on each fire engine there wouldn't be enough firefighters to carry out a rescue or put up a ladder, which means we could put ourselves at risk or the public," he said.

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