Union in row with fire chiefs over plan to introduce vehicle for small incidents

UNION bosses and fire chiefs were engaged in a new row yesterday after the latest in a series of cost-cutting plans were blocked.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue scrapped two fire engines at stations in Sheffield this week as part of plans to save £10m.

Senior officers had wanted to introduce a so-called small incidents unit (SIU) to cover some call-outs, but members of the Fire Brigades Union have refused to use it.

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The SIU was to be based at the city’s Elm Lane fire station, which has lost an engine, the second engine has been removed from the base at Mansfield Road.

It is a smaller, van-like vehicle and according to the brigade can be used to attend low-risk incidents such as grass fires, leaving engines to cover serious fires.

South Yorkshire’s chief fire officer Jamie Courtney said the SIU had previously been used by part-time crews and had successfully tackled almost 700 blazes.

He added: “The FBU will currently not allow its members to carry out the training needed for the SIU, therefore it is not currently possible to provide this additional resource.

“As soon as it becomes possible to introduce the SIU to Elm Lane station, to provide additional fire cover to the local community, it is our intention to do so.”

The union has opposed many of the cuts to the service and called on the brigade to dip into reserves to meet the required savings.