Shropshire Fire and Rescue cuts 'threaten lives'

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Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service has warned that cuts to its fire prevention department could put lives at risk.

The service is trying to find cuts of £3m over four years to its current £21m budget.

Head of fire prevention in Shropshire John Das-Gupta, 42, said a lack of resources would have the effect of "threatening more lives".

The cuts are being planned in advance of the government's Spending Review on 20 October.

Senior officers said there would be a major reduction in community safety work as the service tried to protect front-line services.

Mr Das-Gupta said that a fire in Madeley on 8 October was successfully contained, in part thanks to work by fire prevention officers who had previously inspected the building.

'Not as safe'

The fire at Extra Care's Chillcott Gardens sheltered housing complex was put out and 16 residents were rescued, with two needing hospital treatment.

Mr Das-Gupta said: "If I'm working with a smaller team, the knock-on effect of that is that I will be able to do less inspections, less audits.

"There will be a number of buildings within the county that potentially are not as safe as they would be because the fire service won't have visited them."

Shropshire Fire and Rescue is the one of the poorest-funded services by central government in the country.

Government grants account for £8m - 38% - of its £21m budget. That compares with 69% of the West Midlands service's budget and 44% in Staffordshire.

Shropshire Fire and Rescue is planning for a 25% cut in the central grant it receives, along with a two-year freeze on council tax, which makes up the remaining 62% of its funding.

Sixty staff are expected to leave Shropshire Fire and Rescue over the next four years and the service has confirmed they will not be replaced.

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