Firefighters should be accepted as frontline services and funded adequately, according to Mid-Ulster MLA Sandra Overend.
The Ulster Unionist Party member recently visited the Fire and Rescue Service at Magherafelt Station to hear about the pressures that are being placed on them following a 5.5 per cent reduction to the 2015/16 budget being imposed by the Health Minister.
I feel that any cuts that lead to an increase in response times will ultimately impact on the public and fire-fighter safety and indeed this is unacceptable - Mid Ulster MLA Sandra Overend
“The impact of the 5.5% cut in the 2015/16 budget for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Services is an issue that has been highlighted to me by the Fire Brigade Union some months ago when I met with them as part of the Ulster Unionist Assembly Group but it is continually exercising local Fire-fighters on the ground in Mid Ulster who have contacted me with their concerns,” she said.
“I was very pleased to visit the Magherafelt Station on drill night to be able to spend some time with the whole team of local firefighters discussing their day-to-day work.
“They made me very welcome, showing me around the station and demonstrating the specialist equipment, which is important not only for fires but is crucial in Road Traffic Incidents and, unfortunately, needed all too often.
“I share these firefighters’ concerns and feel that any cuts that lead to an increase in response times will ultimately impact on the public and fire-fighter safety and indeed this is unacceptable. Firefighters should be accepted as frontline services and funded adequately.”
She said that the service and dedication of firefighters in Mid-Ulster is second to none, with many having served for ten and 20 years.
“Very often this this is their second job and their main employers must be commended for accommodating such flexibility in their working hours,” she added.