Firefighters say merger plans with Devon and Somerset brigade puts public safety at risk (From Falmouth Packet)
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Firefighters say merger plans with Devon and Somerset brigade puts public safety at risk
7:00am Saturday 14th September 2013 in News
Firefighters in Cornwall are against a proposed merger of Cornish fire and rescue service with Devon and Somerset.
Reacting to news that Cornwall Council is considering merging Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service with Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, South West Fire Brigades Union secretary, Phil Jordan, said: “Bigger is not always better, and firefighters believe a merger would threaten public safety in Cornwall.
“A merger would mean Cornwall would lose control of its fire and rescue service and decisions about its operation would be handed to a Fire Authority covering three counties.
“It would almost certainly lead to further losses of funding from central government fire, a loss of control in Cornwall and a loss of local knowledge when responding to fires, which can be the difference between life and death.”
Earlier this year Avon Fire and Rescue Authority considered and rejected a merger with Devon and Somerset.
The union says that in the face of massive public opposition, severe cuts to Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service’s budget have recently been made by their Chief Fire Officer, Lee Howell, which firefighters have said would lead to slower response times and a threat to public safety.
Howell has also attracted criticism for accepting a two-day-a-week job advising the Welsh government on top of his full-time position with Devon and Somerset, the episode being dubbed the ‘Howellgate’ affair.
In 2010, the government’s plans to ‘regionalise’ fire control centres were scrapped after an estimated £500 million loss. The plans would have seen local emergency fire control rooms close and replaced with one regional call centres.
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