Belfast Telegraph

High-rise fire engine cuts will put lives at risk in city, union warns

By Cate McCurry

Lives have been put at risk after a special fire appliance designed to tackle high-rise blazes has now been left without a dedicated crew, a union has claimed.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) will no longer have the dedicated fire crew to operate the specialist Aerial Ladder Platform (ALP) fire engine at Northland Road fire station in Londonderry.

Firefighters covering the area will be responsible for an additional fire engine at the same time, meaning a crew is not guaranteed to be available to operate the ALP in the event of an emergency.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has warned the move could prove fatal.

Jim Quinn, executive council member for Northern Ireland at FBU, criticised the decision - saying it will leave the public "less safe".

He added: "We are deeply concerned that this move could have devastating consequences for the safety of the public.

"We know that there are even more cuts planned in the near future that will make us all less safe.

"If an ALP is needed urgently to perform a high-rise rescue and the formerly dedicated crew are responding to another emergency on a different fire engine, then clearly the high-rise rescue is going to be delayed.

"Lives could be lost as a result and there will be more damage to homes, businesses, schools, communities, the economy and the environment.

"These cuts are not linked to any change in the risk faced by firefighters or the public they serve. This is a purely financially driven decision following budget cuts to NIFRS by the Department of Health."

The union representative also said the crew for a specialist rescue appliance at the second fire station in the city, at Crescent Link, will be reduced from four to two.

Belfast Telegraph

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