Suffolk Fire Brigades Union has accused the county council of misleading the public over fire service cuts. Although the council has now admitted that they are indeed axing 12 firefighters from the 999 frontline service, the council’s claims that 9 of the jobs will be switched to prevention work is untrue.
The fact is that only six posts will be switched to “desk-jobs” and not the nine repeatedly claimed by the council. These six posts will only have swivel chairs to sit on rather than fire engines.
The other three “jobs” claimed do not in fact exist. The truth is that they intend the additional work of three firefighters to be given to existing staff to do on a short-term, part-time basis on top of their normal 42-hour week.
The union also questioned the council’s commitment to prevention and community safety which is used as a justification for the planned cuts. Prevention inspections have been slashed and spending on community safety cut by two-thirds in recent years.
Suffolk FBU brigade secretary Vince Jell said: “The council have to come clean and admit they are only switching 6 of the jobs. The other three jobs do not actually exist, it is simply a paper exercise requiring our Members to take on the extra work of three invisible firefighters.
“Axing the 12 frontline posts means they don’t commit new money to prevention or community safety. It’s a half-measure to fill in for previous cuts in prevention and community safety – a half-measure at the expense of the frontline 999 service.”
“This is not about change or modernisation it is about old fashioned cuts in council services. These cuts make our work less safe and the public less safe and they have to stop.”