Dearne hit again by fire service cuts

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A SWATHE of fire service cuts threaten to hit the Dearne yet again.

Plans to axe a technical rescue unit were revealed by South Yorkshire Fire Authority this week and the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) claim 16 firefighters jobs will be axed under budget cuts.

The Technical Rescue Unit (TRU), based at Dearne Fire Station at Manvers, whose presence at incidents has been described as “often a matter of life and death”, will be shut down.

There are 28 firefighters trained at the unit to deal with major incidents such as rail and plane crashes, rescuing people from heights and saving animals in danger.

South Yorkshire Fire Authority agreed this week to save £700,000 by closing it and moving the firefighters and their equipment to other stations.

The FBU warned as many as 16 firefighter posts could go from Dearne Fire Station in separate budget cuts.

The TRU and Dearne station were built to provide cover for the area after fire chiefs decided to shut Mexborough and Brampton stations in 2006 – a move which sparked mass protests and a 16,000 name petition in the community.

John Gilliver, FBU brigade secretary, conceded it was difficult to keep the TRU in the current economic climate. He said: “We’re going to end up with even more cuts to firefighters, fewer appliances and fewer stations. Frontline crews will be spread even more thinly than we are now”.

South Yorkshire’s deputy chief fire officer, Mark Shaw, said moving equipment to other stations would improve the brigade’s response to specialist cases, as the unit could currently only deal with one type of emergency at a time.

The FBU warned Royston Fire Station could close, and a fire engine from Edlington Fire Station lost. The union lobbied local MPs at Westminister on Wednesday, against the proposals.

The authority has to cut £3 million from admin band £7 million from frontline crews, by 2015.

It concluded a public consultation this week and is due to make a decision soon on the proposals.