Storm Desmond FBUThe Fire Brigades Union (FBU) have raised concern at the serious underfunding of the fire and rescue service as they respond to floods and other emergencies as a result of Storm Desmond.

According to the Union fire and rescue services in Cumbria, Northumberland, Lancashire, Tyne and Wear and North Yorkshire have all faced "devastating cuts that have resulted in an unprecedented loss of firefighter numbers". The FBU says this is obstructing the ability of the fire and rescue service to respond to incidents on the scale seen over the weekend where crews dealt with more than 162 incidents between 7am on December 5 and midnight on 6 December. Find out more about the collaborative response here.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “Firefighters are doing fantastic work tackling the impact of the storm and the floods and deserve the support of everyone. David Cameron has tweeted his sympathy for the thousands of people affected by the storm. Yet our fire and rescue service is being cut to pieces and the Prime Minister turns a blind eye to the results.

“Firefighters are responding to this emergency as they have been every time such storms and floods have hit the UK. Over the past few years firefighters have saved thousands of people from the dangers of flooding. They are also central to efforts to protect livestock, industry and other private property. These are all essential for trying to limit the damage to local communities and economies as well as keeping people safe.

“David Cameron, on the eve of the 2010 general election, spoke at Carlisle fire station and promised to protect frontline public services. The reality has been the complete opposite. The fire and rescue service is being cut to pieces. We urgently appeal to the prime minister to reverse the cuts to our emergency services.

“Firefighters are proud to serve our communities. They want to be out there saving lives and making people safer but cuts on this scale inevitably undermine what we are trying to do.”

Between 2011 and 2015 the following cuts have been made:
  • Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service has seen a reduction of 87 firefighters (12.6%)
  • Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service has seen a reduction of 31 firefighters (8%)
  • Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service has seen a reduction of 241 firefighters (18.3%)
  • Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service has seen a reduction 171 firefighters (18.6%)
  • North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has seen a reduction of 78 firefighters (10%).
Lazonby fire station in Cumbria, which has deployed firefighters for the past 36 hours, is also earmarked for closure.