Surrey firefighters have passed a vote of no confidence in the county council over fears fire stations could be cut and jobs lost after £10million worth of budget cuts.

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members from across the county warned further cuts would lead to “avoidable deaths”.

The union has demanded Surrey County Council either relinquish control of the county’s fire service, or give them a “workable budget”, a spokesman told the Epsom Guardian.

Surrey Fire and Rescue stated that residents’ safety was “paramount” in its decisions, but was facing “huge financial pressures”.

Full-time firefighter posts have already been cut by 126 since 2010, and the union believes there will be just 117 full-time firefighters responding to emergencies around the county by 2022 – a 69 per cent drop in firefighter posts in 12 years.

The government has cut the council’s annual grant by £170million since 2010, while demand for adult social care, learning disabilities and children’s services is increasing.

The number of Fire Protection Audits has plummeted by two-thirds because of staff shortages in the last seven years, the union claim, and the number of firefighters in a crew has been reduced from five to four.

Richard Jones, secretary of the FBU in the south east, said: “These budget cuts are completely unacceptable and show, once again, how little regard the fire authority has for the safety of the public.

“If these cuts go ahead, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service will no longer be able to perform its duty effectively. It will take firefighters longer to arrive at emergencies and they will have to wait for backup crews if they need to enter a burning building. This will lead to avoidable deaths.

“These cuts will leave the public with nothing more than a false sense of security.”

A Surrey Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “The safety of Surrey residents is paramount in all decisions that are made and, despite the huge financial pressures we face due to the rising need for services such as social care for children and adults and school places, we’re confident we’ll still be able to provide an effective and efficient fire and rescue service to keep them safe.

“The demands on the fire service are changing and we’re being called to about half the number of fires we were a decade ago. Our focus is on making the best use of our resources to put the service on a solid financial footing as well as equipping our firefighters for the 21st century.”

In the first parliamentary test of Prime Minister Theresa May’s minority government on Wednesday, June 28, Conservative MPs, backed by the DUP, defeated a Labour push to end a public sector pay freeze, which included the freeze on firefighters’ salaries.

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