Fire crews urge caution over potential future fire service merger

THE Fire Brigades Union has urged extreme caution over proposals to merge the Cambridgeshire and Suffolk fire and rescue services.

Proposals are still in their very early stages - but the union says alarm bells are already ringing in regard to the effect such a merger would have on 999 services.

Adrian Clarke, FBU regional secretary, said: “We expect these proposals to be subject to very rigorous consultation, including extensive public consultation, because after all it is the public who pay for our essential 999 service and it is the public whose lives can depend on it in an emergency.

“Experimenting with the fire service is playing with peoples’ lives.”

Andy Vingoe of Suffolk FBU said: “Whilst these proposals are in their earliest of stages, we are surprised given the concerns we have raised this very week with ongoing problems with the newly combined control room. “Rather than being cited as a good reason for further collaboration with Cambridgeshire, we feel the combined control room experiment should be cited as a reason for extreme caution at this stage.”

Last week, Councillor Fred Brown from Littleport, the chairman of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority, said: “A part or full collaboration with another fire service could draw out savings by combining support departments and reducing middle and senior manager numbers.

“It is therefore only right that we give these options serious consideration, otherwise we will be left with no option but to make cuts to our front line services.”