South Yorkshire fire chiefs fear £5m budget could affect ability to respond to national emergencies

Chief Fire Officer James Courtney
Chief Fire Officer James Courtney

Fire chiefs in South Yorkshire fear they could lose £5 million from their budget over the next four years.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has lost more than £8 million since 2010 and bosses say the latest round of Government cuts, announced before Christmas, could affect the service’s ability to respond to national emergencies.

Chief Fire Officer James Courtney said: “We already provide excellent value for money to the people of South Yorkshire with one of the leanest fire services in the country, considering the size of the area we have to cover and the risks associated with a large, urban population.

“Unfortunately, we are not being afforded the same financial protection as the police or ambulance services. I am concerned about the ways this may affect our service in the long term, including our ability to respond to national emergencies such as flooding and terrorism related incidents.

“We have already committed to protecting frontline services as far as possible, but continued sizeable cuts to our funding mean we will have to look at further ways to save money, including possible reductions in the number of immediately available fire engines, which can only have a negative effect on our ability to respond to emergencies.”

The Government announced this week that fire services will come under Home Office control, with brigades expected to be asked to work more closely with police forces.