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Lancashire firefighter jobs at risk in £6m crisis
FIREFIGHTER posts are at risk as the Lancashire Fire Authority is forced to find £6million of savings – the equivalent to 170 full-time posts – it has been warned.
A cap on council tax increases and a drop in Government funding has led to a funding gap up to 2015/16.
The Fire Brigade Union said the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service was running at a bare minimum and any further cuts would put lives in danger.
Government funding, excluding a one-off payment for freezing council tax, has fallen by £2.5m.
Steve Harman, brigade secretary for the FBU, said that the service had made so many reductions over the last 10 years there was very little ‘wiggle room’.
He said: “When we talk about such drastic cuts it has to have an effect. We are being stretched to the limit.
“We don’t know how we will achieve these cuts without drastically affecting the service.
“£6million is equivalent to 170 full-time firefighter posts, or the loss of all the retained firefighter posts in the county.
“The only option is to get rid of full-time posts, but if you get rid of these you lose the front line capacity. It’s a constant battle to keep enough crew at the retained stations at present. Such drastic cuts will put lives of the public and fire-fighters at risk.
The fire authority report said the cuts would leave lasting damage to the service.
It said: “A significant element of this can be offset by the ongoing utilisation of reserves, however dependent upon future council tax restrictions we may not hold sufficient reserves to fully offset the pressures in the next three years.
“Furthermore, it must be noted that this is only a short-term solution as we will still be left with a recurring deficit in future years.
John Taylor, from the authority, said: “There is a meeting of the Fire Authority on Monday at which the budget will be discussed.
“It’s taking a step beyond Monday’s meeting to discuss how the budget will pan out.”
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