I WOULD like to ask your thoughts on the current Northern Ireland Fire Service cuts. These cuts are being steamrollered within the Fire Service without the general public's knowledge - this on top of the double-digit cuts over the previous years of austerity.
The established number of firefighters should be 991. Currently, the Northern Ireland Fire Service has well under 900 firefighters, with another 150-200 due to retire soon. There's been a blanket ban on recruitment for the last few years and this is to continue, so how will these firefighters be replaced? Statements from HR say they want an establishment of 650 firefighters - a 30% cut in frontline personnel. But only last year they employed another six HR staff.
I know these savage cuts have taken place on the mainland, but this is not a risk-based strategy - it is all about austerity.
If further cuts are made in Northern Ireland, this will put the public's and firefighters' safety at a greater risk. This is crazy at a time when firefighters are responding to more diverse calls, such as floods.