Firefighter control staff are calling for the public to back them as a meeting of councillors decides whether to close the entire fire control service in Cornwall.
Firefighter control staff handle calls from the public, provide safety guidance and deploy resources during incidents.
On Thursday, 6 October Cornwall Council Neighbourhoods Overview and Scrutiny Committee will decide on proposals to close and outsource fire control to other emergency services, despite fire control being a highly specialised activity. The latter aspect of the proposal has not been properly costed.
There is a lobby outside the meeting planned by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU). FBU members, and people from communities all over Cornwall, will be outside Lys Kernow (New County Hall) from 09.00am. The invitation to attend is extended to every member of the Cornwall community.
The proposal comes from Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service. The move, if accepted, would result in the entire workforce of control staff and officials being made redundant or redeployed.
Guy Herrington, FBU regional secretary, said: ‘Firefighter control staff use specialist skills and knowledge to save the lives of the public. Now they’re calling on the public to back them as the fire service looks to shut their service down completely. Their highly specialised skills and knowledge are irreplaceable. Simply bundling in these calls with another emergency service would result in a far worse service. It would likely result in lives lost, and it would certainly result in longer attendance times, greater risk to the public, and greater risk to firefighters.
‘This is a purely financial decision – it’s simply about cost-cutting, but it hasn’t even been properly costed. There is an alternative option: proper investment in local fire control, and a formal partnership contract to provide future resilience during large scale incidents and extremely busy periods, such as the heat wave in August.’
Virtually every fire and rescue service in the UK has a control operation and handles its own calls.
The fire and rescue service would aim for the move to take effect by October 2023.
The lobby of the councillors’ meeting will take place on Thursday, 6 October, 9.00am, at Lys Kernow/New County Hill, Treyew Road, Truro, TR1 3AY