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28 June 2017, 06:18
Cambridgeshire's Fire Brigades Union has told Heart the drop in the number of firefighters in the county would be a problem in dealing with a disaster like the Grenfell Tower fire - if it were to happen locally.
"We in Cambridgeshire are struggling to retain our firefighters, especially our on-call firefighters, and so as our numbers are dropping it would be difficult to deal with such an incident," said Brigade Chair of the FBU in Cambridgeshire Martin Harding.
"However I have trust and belief in the firefighters that serve in Cambridgeshire that they would do a good job."
The average response time to fires in the county's homes has increased by more than 10 per cent since 2010.
A fire service spokesman said: “Like most services across the country we struggle to recruit and retain on-call staff. Although we have had periods of success with boosting numbers in recent years, the turnover of our on-call establishment continues to be high. This is due to a number of factors, such as transient employment, changes to family life, living and working in different areas and decreasing calls.
“In 2013 the Service introduced a new shift system for operational watch based staff. This system allows all the fire engines to be crewed to the same levels in a more efficient way. The number of fire engines available has not reduced. The introduction of this system has saves around £1 million per year.
“Having lost £6.84 million from our budget since the first comprehensive spending review, we have had to look at how we do things and ensure we are getting the best value for money for the residents of Cambridgeshire. Although immensely challenging, this has not impacted on the amount of fire engines available. In fact we have been able to reinvest funds to improve the equipment on fire engines across the county. Our struggle remains encouraging those that live near our on-call stations to join us and become on-call firefighters.
“We are continuously looking to recruit on-call staff across the county so would urge anybody that lives within five minutes of an on-call station to visit cambsfire.gov.uk to find out about more about joining us.”