Cuts to firefighters in South Yorkshire among worst in country, union says

More than a quarter of firefighters in South Yorkshire have been cut since 2010, according to the FBU
More than a quarter of firefighters in South Yorkshire have been cut since 2010, according to the FBU

More firefighters have been cut in South Yorkshire than almost anywhere else in the country, a union has claimed.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) says 'savage' cuts have seen almost one in five frontline firefighter posts - some 11,000 - slashed across the UK since 2010.

It has written to MPs nationwide warning that continuing cuts by brigades around the country are putting lives at risk.

The union published a breakdown of cuts by force, which showed 257 frontline jobs - equivalent to 27.5 per cent of the local workforce - had been cut by South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue since 2010.

That was the sixth highest proportion of any brigade, behind only Greater Manchester, Cambridgeshire, Kent, Buckinghamshire and West Yorkshire.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said: "After a tragedy like Grenfell Tower, the public need to feel safe. It is very clear just how badly we need adequate numbers of professional, trained firefighters to tackle these sorts of, thankfully, rare disasters.

"Continued cuts to frontline firefighters and emergency fire control operators – these jobs have been cut by 25 per cent for the same period – are a serious threat to public safety. These new figures are very concerning indeed. Our fire and rescue service is being cut to the bone – it needs investment, not more cuts."

The FBU said almost 8,000 of the jobs lost since 2010 were full-time firefighter posts, with nearly 3,000 on-call firefighter jobs also disappearing.

The union's figures, compiled using Freedom of Information requests, show 27 firefighter jobs - 3.8 per cent of remaining roles - were slashed in South Yorkshire during 2016/17.

A South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue spokesman said: "We have lost more than £14 million in our government funding since 2010 - a 25 per cent overall cut. Whilst our approach has always been to protect our core, emergency response service as far as possible, the size of the funding cuts we have faced has inevitably led to a reduction in firefighters.

"Plans published earlier this year reiterate our commitment to provide the best possible service to the people of South Yorkshire within the resources available to us and we are not proposing any further reductions in fire engines or fire stations."