North Yorkshire Fire Service is "in crisis"

Steve Howley, secretary of the FBU in North Yorkshire, says North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue is "in crisis".
Steve Howley, secretary of the FBU in North Yorkshire, says North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue is "in crisis".
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The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has slammed a deal they believe will give two senior managers at North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service a £35k pay rise as 48 frontline firefighter posts face the axe.

The union called the alleged decision by North Yorkshire chief fire officer (CFO) Nigel Hutchinson, and members of the county’s fire authority to increase the two officers’ pay to over £112k each.

Steve Howley, secretary of the FBU in North Yorkshire, said: “The fire authority’s decision to rubber stamp the CFO’s proposal for these pay increases to two senior officers in their final year of service proves there is no real scrutiny of the chief and his decisions.

“The authority plans to raise council tax by the maximum 1.99% for the second year as well as reducing 48 full-time firefighter posts by replacing a standard fire engine with a tactical response vehicle – a miniature fire engine that carries only three firefighters with plans to further reduce to two – seriously limiting our rescue capabilities.

“We are a service in crisis. We do not have enough staff in our control room to answer 999 calls resulting in them being re-directed to Cornwall, a result of cuts to staff numbers placing our remaining control operators in unacceptable and stressful positions.

"Couple this with as many as 18 fire engines being unavailable on a regular basis proves that senior officers are failing to provide an adequate service to the taxpayer. Yet they receive eye-watering pay increases when they constantly tell us there is no extra cash for firefighters.”

The union reported this week how no fire engines were immediately available to respond to emergencies from York to Scarborough. There was also no high rise rescue capability in Scarborough and only one out of the two appliances available. In the Malton area, where no fire engines were available, response times to emergencies hit 30 minutes as engines had to come from further afield.

It is believed that the additional pension cost burden to the taxpayer for the two pay increases in the final 12 months of the managers’ careers will be around £2.4m over the estimated pension lifespan.