Avon fire service expected to lose 80 firefighters in cuts

Union leaders say they fear budget cuts could cost the jobs of more than 80 firefighters at Avon Fire and Rescue Service.

Both the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) and Avon Fire Authority said they expected the service to have to make savings of nearly £3.5m over the next two years.

The projected figure is due to be confirmed by the government in a Commons statement in the next two days.

The service currently has about 600 full-time firefighters.

As well as several fire stations in Bristol being crewed 24-hours-a-day, there are similar arrangements in Bath, Weston-super-Mare and Yate.

'Might be worse'

Chris Taylor, brigade secretary of Avon FBU, said: "We've already seen a 30% cut in jobs of support staff in the service and now the only cuts left will be front-line staff.

"The £3.5m represents approximately 80 firefighters' posts. We haven't had the exact amount of cuts we've got to do at the moment.

"We expect the service officers to come to us with proposals in the new year."

Councillor Terry Walker, chairman of Avon Fire Authority said the £3.5m was about 25% of the government grant to the service.

He said: "The problem is it [the figure] might well be worse in the announcement... and we've had a long period of austerity in the fire service.

"We've had a long period where all the fat has been cut off the bone and we've got nothing there."

Mr Taylor added: "The service can tell the public in the area the service isn't going to change that much, but 80 jobs is 80 jobs.

"£3.5m is the equivalent of closing central fire station in Bristol.

"People expect a response when they've got a problem and that response comes every time.

"If we've got less firefighters to do that, it means resources for other important work, such as the community safety side of things, is going to be under pressure."

The government's settlement to fire authorities for the next financial year is expected to be announced on Wednesday or Thursday.

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