Fire dispute ends

The long-running industrial dispute in Essex fire and rescue service has been brought to an end following months of detailed negotiations.

Fire crews voted two to one to accept the settlement terms negotiated and recommended by their union leaders.

Keith Handscomb, Fire Brigade Union executive council member said: “This has been the longest running dispute in fire service history.

“The challenges ahead are huge as the fire and rescue service faces the most severe cuts ever in central government funding.

“The union and frontline firefighters in Essex continue to hold serious concerns over the reduction of the wholetime fire crews and as a consequence the speed and weight of 999 response to emergencies. But, the negotiated settlement includes written assurances from the chief fire officer to maintain the overall numbers of wholetime firefighters across Essex up to March 2015 and beyond, subject to central government funding being no worse than already projected.”

Chief Fire Officer David Johnson said that it was time to draw a line under the past and look forward.

“The service will face significant financial challenges over the next couple of years and it is important for us all to focus our energies on the future and learn to work together once again to achieve the best possible outcome for Essex,” he said.

“Prudent financial management has enabled us to offer all Essex firefighters job security come what may, and we have a Fire Authority mandate to maintain the same number of fire stations and fire appliances with the financial resources to support those guarantees.”