Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Fire deaths fears prompt calls to protect service from cuts

Published 18/01/2016

Health minister Simon Hamilton was urged to act by Stormont Assembly members before fire service cuts risk lives
Health minister Simon Hamilton was urged to act by Stormont Assembly members before fire service cuts risk lives

Stormont Assembly members have called for action from the health minister before lives are put at risk by fire service cuts.

A senior fire officer has expressed concern about the "devastating" impact of any budget reduction next year for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS).

Assembly members pressed minister Simon Hamilton to protect the service from spending reductions.

SDLP MLA Fearghal McKinney said: "People's lives are being put at risk as a result of these budget proposals."

A letter from interim chief fire and rescue officer Dale Ashford to a senior official in the Department of Health, which has overall control of the Fire Service, said a budget reduction of 5% or 10% within the 2016/17 financial year would be devastating.

Sinn Fein MLA Maeve McLaughlin claimed the number of injuries, rescues and attendances at road traffic collisions which firefighters dealt with were at their highest in five years.

In a letter, obtained by the Fire Brigades Union via a Freedom of Information request, Mr Ashford warned that fire stations would be closed and jobs lost if proposed cuts of 5% were introduced.

Mr Ashford said: "In summary, a budget reduction of either 5% or 10% within the 2016/2017 financial year would have a devastating impact on the operations of the Fire and Rescue Service."

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph