Merseyside Fire Service to cut more than 170 jobs

More than 170 jobs are to be shed over the next two years at Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service.

The authority confirmed 92 firefighters' jobs and 80 support staff would go over the next three years.

It has also imposed a three-year pay freeze and pledged to cut £2.4m from management and backroom costs. Control room staffing will also be reduced.

Firefighter reductions are to be achieved by not replacing people when they retire, it said.

It said it hoped to avoid making compulsory redundancies for non-uniformed staff.

The authority said its 2011/12 budget reflected unprecedented government cuts of £9m over the next two years.

Cuts 'unprecedented'

It said it had received the worst government grant cut of any UK fire and rescue authority in the country.

Tony McGuirk, chief fire officer, said: "The government cuts are unprecedented and will have an impact on an organisation which has led the way in making the service more successful and efficient over the last decade.

"Eighty per cent of our costs are staff-related so it is impossible to make savings of this size without impacting on jobs. Our focus has to be on maintaining frontline services".

A total of 1,176 frontline staff, including 962 firefighters and 42 control room staff, are employed by the authority with 218 non-frontline staff.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has questioned the extent of the job losses.

Les Skarratts, secretary of Merseyside FBU, said: "There's got to be some debate to be had about why other fire authorities around the country can manage change, can manage the budget without losing jobs to the extent Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service has."

He added: "Government has indicated the following two years could see even higher reductions but we will be lobbying strongly that this doesn't happen."

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