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Firefighters face the axe in budget cuts
ALMOST 100 firefighter jobs are set to be axed as Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service struggles to cope with massive Government cuts.
In addition to the 95 frontline posts, at least 57 support roles will also be put at risk, taking the total job loss to more than 150.
The cuts, which will go before the fire authority next Tuesday, come as the service is faced with making £10m worth of savings over the next two years.
However the threat of closing some stations across Merseyside would be lifted, although the number of fire engines would be reduced – which means it would take an extra two and a half minutes for a second engine to arrive at an emergency.
According to chief fire officer Dan Stephens, the changes mean Wirral would lose three engines but he insisted that option was better for response times than doing away with 10 stations across the county.
Mr Stephens said: "The budget option I am recommending for approval is to keep all 26 stations because it gives us faster response times for the first engine on the scene.
"But the second engine will take an extra two and a half minutes which does concern me but I recognise that our response standards are still a lot higher than anywhere else in the country.
"I would far rather that we didn’t have to do this but I know that we will still be better than other areas."
Under the proposals, £7m will be saved from cutting support roles such as safety awareness while the number of firefighters across Merseyside would fall from 850 to around 760.
There are also plans to increase the number of people working from West Kirby fire station in a bid to improve responses to emergencies.
The current system sees firefighters based at nearby accommodation during the evenings when they are on call.
However Mr Stephens wants to ensure there is no delay in crews reaching a blaze.
He said: "At the moment, firefighters at West Kirby do their 12-hour shift in the day before going to stay at accommodation for the night where they are on alert.
"Therefore the same people are there at night as during the day, doing four days on, four days off.
"But I am recommending that we increase the number of people there so that the station is crewed 24/7.
"Because the accommodation at West Kirby is four minutes away from the station, there is a delay in getting out to the incident so I want to eliminate that delay."
The Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority will meet on February 26.