Threat to NI fire and rescue cover

Threat to NI fire and rescue cover

Stormont budget cuts to the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service could result in front line cover being reduced across the entire region, UTV can reveal.

The Health Minister, who has responsibility for the service, has told fire chiefs they must reduce their budget by 2.5%.That will amount to £2m for this year to a service which already has a budget shortfall of £3m.Dermott Rooney of the Fire Brigades Union said his organisation would fight to defend the service.He said: "We believe this will impact services across Northern Ireland."It will affect rural stations and stations in larger towns and cities. If you reduce fire cover, if you change the way fire cover is delivered to try and save money there will be an impact, we believe, on front line service delivery and on firefighter and community safety."Northern Ireland has almost 70 fire stations, staffed by more than two thousand people and there are concerns over jobs losses with part-time firefighters most at risk.Dermott Rooney added: "The Northern Ireland public deserve the best in terms of a fire and rescue service."We believe we are the best fire and rescue service in the UK and we are prepared to defend that."Our members are angry and are prepared to defend the service and we don't believe the public has the appetite to see the fire service eroded."East Londonderry MLA John Dallat said it was important to retain front line services.He said: "We can't see enough in terms of the ordinary firefighters those who are at the front of the service."Those people are the salt of the earth and they need to be reassured as well that the service they are carrying out is not threatened with cuts," the SDLP representative said.


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