Firefighters to hold mass rally to fight North Wales fire service cuts
Firefighters from across north Wales will join with supporters in a mass rally on Saturday to oppose proposed cuts to the region’s fire service.
The protest takes place on the day that North Wales Fire and Rescue Service is set to close a public consultation on cuts to firefighters, fire stations and cover across north Wales.
Three different options have been put forward by the fire service as it looks to improve emergency cover in rural areas in Corwen, Dolgellau and Porthmadog.
One option would see full-time firefighters put on duty during the day in Corwen, Dolgellau and Porthmadog.
This option would not see job losses but would lead to every North Wales household paying £20.36 more than they do now.
The second option would be the same as the above, but one of three fire engines based in Wrexham would be taken away, with 22 firefighter jobs lost – to make savings of around £1.1m.
With this option, each household would pay £16.63 more.
The final option would be the same as option two, but with the closures of Llanberis, Beaumaris, Abersoch, Cerrigydrudion and Conwy fire stations, with the loss of 36 full-time firefighters and 38 on-call firefighters. This option would see taxpayers pay £12.22 more than now.
The Fire Brigades Union’s campaign ‘Save Our Fire Service’ opposes the options presented in the consultation, as they would all result in a reduction to fire cover.
The union has put forwards two alternative proposals for growth and investment in the service instead.
A petition opposing options in the consultation has gained over 1,800 signatures.
Speakers at the rally will include Plaid Cymru county councillor Carrie Harper, Wales TUC general secretary Shavanah Taj, Councillor Dana Davies, representatives from Unite the Union, and FBU representatives including assistant general secretary Ben Selby.
Matt Ryan, North Wales FBU Brigade Secretary, said: “If any of the proposed cuts are implemented, towns and villages across north Wales will face a concerning reduction in fire cover. This means fewer firefighters and resources available to respond quickly to incidents like house fires.
“We have put forward clear alternatives to these dangerous cuts, which would allow our service to continue protecting our communities and to grow with investment.
“Members of the public have been vocal in joining the campaign and defending their fire service. We invite residents of north Wales and surrounding areas to join us at the rally this Saturday.”
Duncan Stewart-Ball, Wales FBU Regional Secretary, said: “The strength of feeling among firefighters and the public has been overwhelming. It’s clear that our communities will not stand by and allow public safety to be sacrificed as part of a cost cutting exercise.
“Slashing the number of fire stations, firefighters, fire engines inevitably puts lives and homes at risk. We will not sit back and allow this decimation of our public service.
“We urge the Fire Authority to put an option for improvement to our services out to the public of North Wales and let them decide.”
Gwynedd council said it is “supportive of the aim to improve emergency response services and is keen to see day staffed fire stations in Porthmadog and Dolgellau being established, but not at the expense of closing the on-call fire stations in Abersoch and Llanberis”.
Anglesey Council has expressed concerns over a “nightmare situation” if the fire service decided to shut Beaumaris Fire Station.
The rally will take place in Queen’s Square, Wrexham at 12pm this Saturday, 30 September.
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