‘Striking is a last resort’

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FIREFIGHTERS from Halstead and Sible Hedingham yesterday joined a 24-hour strike in a show of opposition to plans to cut frontline crews.

Members of the stations’ Fire Brigades Union (FBU) began strike action at 9am in an attempt to put a stop to what they believe are dangerous cuts to the 999 service in Essex.

The FBU claims that proposed cuts by the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) would see 100 full-time and 60 retained firefighter posts axed – leaving people waiting longer for help in an emergency.

FBU Brigade chairman Alan Chinn-Shaw said: “No one wants to go on strike – we have only done so in what is a third year of continuing cuts to frontline services and imposition.”

While many FBU members went on strike, firefighters willing to work continued to cover the county, with more than 40 appliances available.

Adam Eckley, deputy chief fire officer for Essex, said “strong resilience arrangements” were in place and people should continue to dial 999 in the event of emergency.

“We should make no bones about it – this strike is not about cuts, it is about the FBU flexing its muscles at the expense of Essex firefighters and Essex communities,” said Mr Eckley.

The strike was due to end at 9am this morning.

For the full story see this week’s Free Press.