Fire Service Facing Big Challenges

The County’s Chief Fire Officer David Johnson has pledged that the safety of our communities and his firefighters will remain his top priority for 2010 despite all adversity.

In his New Year message, CFO Johnson said that 2010 looks set to present some of the biggest challenges ever faced by the fire service in Essex. But despite the pressures, there will be no shortcuts when it comes to delivering a first-class operational response and ensuring frontline firefighters have the training and tools they need to do their jobs.

Faced with unknown financial pressures brought on by anticipated cuts in public spending and an ongoing industrial dispute, CFO Johnson says that he will be looking to end uncertainty for his workforce and the community at the earliest opportunity.

“There are undoubtedly going to be a few surprises round the corner in terms of what will be expected of us financially,” said CFO Johnson. “Cuts in public spending will begin to bite after an anticipated General Election and like other emergency services, ECFRS will have to cut its cloth accordingly.

“The fire service has a ‘can do’ tradition and I am certain that with the support and commitment of ECFRS’ dedicated men and women that work to serve the county, we will come out at the other side fitter and stronger. It will mean doing things differently and I am hoping against hope that the Fire Brigades Union accepts that fact and gets on board with us at the earliest opportunity so that we can move forward together to deliver the service the people of Essex are paying for and what they have come to expect.

“ In the current economic climate, we need to deliver this service at appropriate value and that means looking at the resources we have, being innovative in the way we employ those resources and taking decisions that may be painful but necessary.

“It is my belief right now that we can do what we need to do while protecting jobs and continuing to invest in new equipment and training. I am also committed to doing more in terms of our valuable community safety work which is beginning to pay dividends in terms of reducing death and injury from fire and on the roads.

“I am delighted to see that more and more families are following our lead and helping themselves to the most valuable piece of fire safety equipment any home can have by installing life saving fire alarms. Our firefighters tell us that they are seeing more and more smoke alarms in properties throughout the County and they have numerous stories to tell about how early warning saved life and property. However, we cannot give up on this work until every home is protected.”

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