Northamptonshire’s Chief Fire Officer addressed the County Council this week and stated that out of the thirteen similar sized fire services they compare themselves with, Northamptonshire has the lowest number of fire engines per station and that the service has issues around capacity as it is such a small force, and finance as it’s already one of the worst funded organisations in the country.
Opposition Councillors made the point that the service was very good and had very good officers but that we cannot keep cutting the budget and there should be no more cuts as well as highlighting the risk of cuts to staff and arguing that as the Fire Authority, the Council should be supporting our staff and giving them more resources.
In this year’s budget the Conservative administration agreed to cut the staff for the County's one and only Technical Rescue Vehicle (TRV). This is the fire engine that carries specialist equipment for major incidents. Currently it is manned 24/7 and attends every road traffic accident in the County. From now on it will only be called out after other fire fighters have already attended and requested it, and as it will no longer be permanently manned, if the specialist crew is out on another job elsewhere there will be a delay before they return to the station to get the TRV.
Fire fighters often talk about the ‘golden hour’. This is the first hour from an incident being reported to the casualties being freed from a wreck and getting to hospital, because it is recognised if they can get to hospital in that hour they are much more likely to survive a serious injury. Obviously, the new way of working will lead to delays and causalities will therefore be much less likely to reach hospital in this time.
Mick Scrimshaw is the Leader of the Labour Group at Kettering Borough Council, the Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance at Northamptonshire County Council. He has a public record of standing up for Kettering as a County Councillor for the Northall division in Kettering, Northants and since May 2015, a Borough Councillor for the William Knibb ward. He is a keen cyclist and also runs a family business with his wife.