Mass rally organised to oppose fire service cuts across north of Wales
Firefighters from across north Wales will rally in Wrexham at the end of the month to oppose cuts to the service.
The protest has been organised by the Fire Brigades Union under the banner of “Save our Fire Service” in response to proposals to cut emergency cover in many parts of the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service.
A consultation is currently underway that outlines three options. Concerns about the extent of that consultation – which includes proposals to close five fire stations and axe one in eight frontline firefighters – has seen fiery public meetings and online petitions signed by thousands.
Stuart Stanley, North Wales FBU secretary, said: “We have been heartened by the extent of the support from across north Wales and the protest at Wrexham is to reflect that it’s the busiest station and facing the greatest reduction in firefighters from 52 to 28 under two of the three options proposed by the Fire and Rescue Authority.
“We welcome all North Wales residents turning up to support and hope this will send a clear message to the fire authority that this process is unacceptable.
“Although we welcome the commitment to improve some rural emergency cover in the Gwynedd area, these improvements are hugely outweighed by losses elsewhere. We have serious concerns about the job losses, the station closures, the downgrading of fire stations in parts of Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham and the reduction in fire cover across many towns and villages in North Wales.
“The FBU’s counter proposal – options four and five – would see existing services maintained and plan for growth to meet demand and ensure we maintain the safety record we have in the North. We believe the public consultation will show that the people are behind or call and that’s why we urge as many as possible to attend the rally.”
Duncan Stewart-Ball, Wales FBU Regional Secretary, said: “It is extremely disappointing that we have found ourselves at this point. The Fire Authority took it upon themselves and decided that the public of North Wales should not be given the option for improving the service. To see growth and jobs created, but instead, offered three options, that all reduce fire cover of sorts but come at an increase to the taxpayer. We urge the Fire Authority to put the growth option, the option for improvement, out to the public of North Wales and let them decide.”
Councillor Becca Martin, of Wrexham, who helped coordinate the online petition campaign, said: “Back in 2016, Wrexham was threatened with the loss of its second whole-time fire engine and 24 firefighters’ jobs. A determined campaign by local people and the FBU fought off that threat and the service was maintained.
“Now, as a result of a decade of cuts and austerity, we’re having to fight once again to save our fire service. We don’t want different areas played against each other – it’s really important that people from every community in north Wales unite to prevent these cuts, which will put lives at risk.
“Losing experienced and skilled personnel would also have a detrimental effect on the Fire Service’s ability to mobilise specialist equipment such as the Aerial Ladder Platform, which is so vital in dealing with house fires. Losing those additional firefighters severely reduces capacity in Wrexham, which has 50% of all call-outs and also covers more rural areas to support retained part-time firefighters.
“I stand with the the people who have to deal every day with emergencies – they say that those appliances are needed, and those crews are needed. That’s why I’m backing options four and five in the consultation and that’s why we’re holding this rally in the centre of Wrexham.”
The rally starts at noon on Saturday 30th September, at Queen’s Square, Wrexham.
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