The scale of the cuts to Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MF&RS) has been announced, with a reduction in the Revenue Support Grant amounting to a 47% cut over the next 5 years after inflation.
This means that MF&RS will be forced to make savings of £11 million over the same period.
The Service has already been forced to make significant cuts in recent years, resulting in station closures across Merseyside and over a 33% reduction in the number of Fire Engines, firefighters and equipment available.
There are now only 24 ‘whole time’ fire engines to cover the whole of Merseyside.
Despite this huge reduction in resources, the Service has maintained the fastest response times to dwelling fires of all the Metropolitan Fire and Rescue Authorities in the UK and carried out more than 40,000 Home Fire Safety Checks across Merseyside this year to keep people safe.
However this latest round of cuts will inevitably put these achievements at risk over the next five years as the Service faces the significant challenges ahead. On 18 December, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority approved the closure of Eccleston and St. Helens stations, with a new facility to be built on Canal Street in St. Helens, merging the two stations.
Chief Fire Officer, Dan Stephens, said:
‘The Fire and Rescue Service is the only emergency service which has not been protected from the cuts.
The latest round of government cuts further challenges our ability to maintain the safety of the public. The current level of emergency response cover is already under pressure and these additional cuts will make further reductions in whole-time appliances and therefore closures of fire stations inevitable.
Our Firefighters and support staff will continue to do all we can to keep the people of Merseyside safe, but the ongoing cuts to our funding make it increasingly difficult to do so. We now have no alternative but to identify what are the least worst options for emergency response cover across Merseyside.’
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