SURREY firefighters will be refusing to work overtime from Christmas Eve, in protest at a reorganisation that will cut night-time cover across the county by seven fire engines

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) have voted to take this industrial action in their campaign to halt the Making Surrey Safer proposals approved by the county council in September.

They will also refuse to use their own cars for brigade purposes, refuse to use non-operational vehicles and refuse to stand in for understaffed senior roles.

This means it will be difficult for Surrey Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) to move its staff between stations, and to keep appliances available when the brigade is short of firefighters.

The FBU has been concerned for some time at the inability of SFRS to staff all its fire engines. Making Surrey Safer, due to come into effect in April, will refocus staff on fire prevention duties  but it will impose a reduction of 70 frontline posts.

Surrey FBU secretary Lee Belsten said: “We’ve done everything else in our power to stop these dangerous cuts and have no choice but to resort to industrial action. The county council and fire service bosses have ignored the concerns of residents and the professional advice of their firefighters for too long.

“Underfunding has become endemic in Surrey Fire and Rescue, with bosses depending on the goodwill of firefighters in a failed attempt to meet basic standards. Our goodwill has run dry.”

The industrial action follows fire service inspectors announcing that Surrey Fire and Rescue Service has made “significant progress” in several areas since a report last December said the brigade was poorly organised, inadequate and inefficient.

For the full story get the 19 December edition of the News & Mail