Firefighters may face disciplinary action over restructure dissent

FIREFIGHTERS say they are being threatened with being disciplined for resisting a reorganisation which will reduce night-time fire brigade cover in Surrey.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is concerned that 150 of its members in the county have been warned they will be penalised if they continue to refuse to work overtime.

Surrey firefighters are concerned cutting night-time coverage of fire engines will put the public at unnecessary risk

The union is in official dispute over Surrey Fire and Rescue Service’s intention to institute its Making Surrey Safer “transformation”, which will see seven fire engines taken out of service during evenings and nights.

The FBU fears residents will be put at unnecessary risk by the cut. Local members are particularly concerned about future cover in Woking, where up to 10 tower blocks are being built or planned for the town centre.

“Our members are keeping to their contracts, which say they are not compelled to do overtime, but they are being told they will be disciplined for taking the action,” said Surrey FBU chairman Graham Whitfield.

Mr Whitfield, who is based at Woking Fire Station, added: “The brigade is claiming it has recruited 70 firefighters for its stations, but at least 65 have left in recent months, through retirements, illness and transfers.”

A Surrey Fire and Rescue Service spokesman told the News & Mail: “We have been working very hard to resolve all the issues raised by the FBU. We have written to the union and met with them on several occasions to try and establish a resolution.

“No staff are being subject to disciplinary action for refusing to do overtime.

“We have recruited 93 new firefighters and will continue to recruit both full-time and on-call firefighters during 2020 and 2021.”

For the full story get the 30 January edition of the News & Mail

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