East Antrim Ulster Unionist Party Assemblyman Roy Beggs MLA has spoken of his concern at the proposed reduction of full time fire fighters and budget reduction in Northern Ireland which would adversely affect response times in the Carrickfergus area.
Mr Roy Beggs MLA said;
“At present, Carrickfergus fire station is manned 7 days a week by whole-time firefighters, 0730 – 1930 and with retained firefighters providing additional cover 24/7. The new proposal is to have whole-time firefighters from 0800 to 1800, Monday to Friday. Weekend cover is to be provided entirely by retained firefighters.”
“This proposal will lengthen response times to fires and road traffic accidents. In addition, with the increased difficulty in attracting retained firefighters who will be available 24/7, there can often be an inability to safely man a fire appliance.”
The budget process to date has not ring-fenced the fire and rescue service and indeed a 5% cut has been proposed. Mr Ashford, the Chief Fire and Rescue Officer, has described that the looming cuts will have a “devastating impact” and lead to “unacceptable risk levels”.
The Ulster Unionist Party MLA, who voted in favour of the motion said “I would call for the Fire Service budget to be ring-fenced and the proposed cut to be reversed as the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) should be treated as a vital front line emergency service.”
“I would encourage the public to respond to the consultation and make their views known up until the 7th March 2016 by going to www.nifrs.org/consultation/ or by calling the NIFRS’s Equality and Inclusion Unit , on 028 9266 4221 Ext 2301 to oppose the continued cuts to service provision.”