Cutting Crosby's second fire engine would be gambling with peopl

Diane Roberts, Steve McGinnity and Bill Esterson


Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson attended the Crosby Branch meeting of the Fire Brigades Union and says Merseyside Fire Authority would be "gambling with people's lives" if they remove Crosby's second fire engine.

The FBU briefed the MP on the impact of the cuts at Crosby and on the potential risk it would cause to residents and to the docks.

Crosby's second pump is expected to be the latest victim of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government's cuts, alongside four other appliances across Merseyside.

The fire authority has been subjected to major cuts in government grants.

Bill Esterson said: "The FBU has done its own analysis of the cuts and Merseyside Fire Service has its own integrated rescue management plan which includes having two fire engines operational at Crosby. The assessment carried out in drawing up the fire service plan has not changed in which case the need for two fire engines has not changed.

"I don't believe that there has been a proper risk assessment which would justifiably warrant safely removing the engine from service. The cuts on staff numbers mean that effectively they can't use the second engine anyway.

"This puts the public at far greater risk, whatever the government says because the organisational plan says that Crosby needs two engines.

"Just what has changed? Nothing."

To attend a house fire, Merseyside Fire Service must send two pumps. If Crosby's one engine gets to the incident, it must then await the arrival of the second engine which could be coming from Netherton or even further afield.

The MP also heard evidence this week from the union that the support pump, which would be utilised as a back up for major incidents, was unavailable throughout January for 38 out of a possible 62 shifts because of staff shortages. In February according to the union, it was even worse with the second fire engine unavailable due to staff shortages for 38 out 48 shifts, 79% of the time. The cuts will mean that the fire station will be short of staff permanently and the second fire engine will never have the staff to operate it.

Bill added: "The fire service is clearly already very stretched - these cuts will leave the service dangerously unable to cope with any kind of major incident.

"The Tories and Lib Dems are taking huge risks with public safety just like they are down the road at Crosby Coastguard Station.

"If savings have to be met, they should ask the staff how these cuts can be made.

"Crosby services the docks as well as a huge residential area. That's a large geographic are and a lot of lives.

"They shouldn't be gambling with people's lives in this way.

"It would take just one fire to demonstrate that these savings are a false economy. One major fire would cost a lot more than the savings, not to mention the loss of life."

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