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Tags: FBU

Firefighters’ Manifesto launches amid concerns over service’s future

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Hundreds gather in Westminster to present the Firefighters’ Manifesto

Today, Wednesday 1 November, Westminster is witnessing a gathering of hundreds of firefighters and control staff to introduce a new ‘Firefighters’ Manifesto’.

As the UK navigates the aftermath of widespread flooding and grapples with the challenges posed by climate change, the union expressed concern, stating: “Politicians must listen to the voice of the frontline” in order to “avert catastrophe”.

FBU notes impacts of austerity on the fire and rescue service

The Firefighters’ Manifesto highlighted the considerable challenges faced by the fire and rescue service over the past 13 years, a period marked by austerity.

The implications include:

  • 1 in 5 firefighter jobs being slashed
  • A significant 30% reduction in central government funding in tangible cash terms
  • A concerning increase leading to record high response times
  • The closure of numerous fire stations
  • Alarmingly overstretched responses to situations like floods, wildfires, and other weather-related events.

Demands outlined in the Firefighters’ Manifesto

The manifesto lists several imperative demands:

  • An urgent funding boost for the fire and rescue service
  • Establishment of national standards concerning response times and staffing
  • Creation of a statutory advisory entity to determine policy and standards, advocating for firefighters’ representation
  • Implementing measures to guarantee safe housing for everyone, resisting deregulation
  • Taking proactive measures against climate change, with adequate resources to protect against events like floods and severe weather
  • Ensuring advancements in areas like equality, tackling fire contaminants, and enhancing democratic accountability.

Firefighters from across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland converged on Methodist Central Hall for this significant event, which also saw interventions from renowned political and trade union personalities.

The day’s activities also involve firefighters in uniform participating in various activities around Westminster.

‘Service in crisis’

Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union general secretary, conveyed the urgency of the situation: “The fire and rescue service is in crisis.

“To avoid catastrophe, politicians must start listening to the voice of the frontline.

“Firefighters are there in our time of need, and climate change means there is an urgent requirement to build resilience in the fire and rescue service, as recent flooding has illustrated.

“But every year it’s getting harder to protect our communities.

“One in five firefighter jobs has been cut since 2010.

“Response times are at record highs, and firefighters are regularly pushed beyond safe limits.

“Meanwhile, decades of deregulation have created the conditions for tragedies, putting safety in homes and workplaces on the line.

“Today, firefighters will travel from all over the UK to send a clear message to the next Westminster government, in an extraordinary display of dedication to our service.

Firefighters are committed to saving lives. We’re calling on politicians to answer this emergency call.”

Read more on the launch here.

IFSJ Comment

The launch of the Firefighters’ Manifesto marks a pivotal moment for the UK’s fire and rescue service.

The evident challenges highlighted – from significant job cuts to heightened response times – indicate the need for governmental action.

With climate change exacerbating crises like flooding, the demands of the manifesto, such as resource allocation and building resilience, could be more crucial than ever.

As the union’s voice resonates with concerns, stakeholders, including the government, should consider this call for action seriously.

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