SOMERSET cricketers and an MP are opposing proposals to cut full-time firefighter numbers in Taunton amid claims that the town is being hit harder than other fire stations.
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service wants to lay off 20 Taunton firefighters, meaning there would be one full-time crew rather than two as part of £5.5million book-balancing, service-wide cuts.
Captain Marcus Trescothick and Somerset team-mates have signed a Fire Brigades Union petition, and Taunton Deane MP Jeremy Browne has intervened after meeting managers and firefighters at Taunton Fire Station.
Mr Browne said: “The budget reductions proposed for Taunton are much greater than at most other fire stations across Devon and Somerset.
“Somerset seems to be getting a bad deal under the plans. Devon has roughly twice Somerset’s population, but four times the number of full-time fire stations.”
He said it appears illogical to have fewer firefighters while thousands of homes are being built in the district.
“Budgets are tight, but I want the fire authority to set out alternative saving plans that don’t involve drastically reducing firefighter numbers in Taunton,” said Mr Browne.
A DSFRS spokesman said cutbacks were needed as its Government grant is falling 17% over two years, but he says the public will not be at risk.
He added: “Some of the proposals relate to changing the crewing systems at six fire stations across Somerset and Devon – five in Devon. Other proposals will have an impact service-wide.
“Under the proposal for Taunton, the number of whole-time firefighters would be reduced, but the number of fire engines would stay the same.
“The first fire engine will remain whole-time, with on-call firefighters crewing the second.”
He said most fire stations in the two counties were run entirely by on-call firefighters, while a retained crew in Taunton already staffs a third appliance.
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