AROUND 150 fire service jobs will be lost in Merseyside as it struggles with a £10m government funding cut.
Ninety firefighter posts will be shed and at least 57 support roles put at risk of compulsory redundancy under budget proposals set to be approved next Tuesday.
Ten closure-threatened stations are likely to be spared but the number of fire engines spread across the county will fall – causing a 2½-minute rise in the time it takes for a second engine to reach an emergency.
Chief fire officer Dan Stephens admitted the £10m cull in funding was “as good as could have been expected”. The service, which dealt with a £9.5m deficit imposed in 2011, feared a worst-case scenario of £17m.
Mr Stephens said: “I would rather be in a position where we had to make no cuts. But it is a simple fact that we will have to lose people.
“You can’t take £19.5m from a budget of £70m and expect that things will stay the same.”
Under the budget proposals, the cuts will see £7m stripped from the service’s prevention arm – such as fire safety awareness and advocacy work – leading to at least 57 job losses from a pool of around 300 staff.
The remaining £3m would be culled from the fire service’s response arm – with around 90 firefighter posts lost and the number of fire engines falling to 28, down from 42 in 2011.
Two options are then on the table – whether to have one fire engine based at each station, except for two based at Kirkdale and Southport, or to close 10 fire stations and keep more engines at the remaining 16 premises.
While the latter option would save the service an extra £1m a year, the Post understands it is unlikely to be approved.
Mr Stephens said: “Keeping the stations open will keep response times shorter but there will be an impact.