Up to eight firefighters have been told they will not be kept on with the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service beyond the end of the year.
Those on temporary contracts were given their notice yesterday, and told their jobs would end on 31 December.
The plans come just weeks after controversial changes were approved by the Isle of Wight Council cabinet that will see a revamp to the shift system, including reducing the number of whole-time firefighters crewing an engine from five to four.
The plans also suggested reducing the number of whole-time crew from 58 to 50.
Given notice yesterday
At the time, councillors said there would be no redundancies.
Chair of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), Pete Mawhood, said:
“They were given their notice yesterday. I don’t know whether it was in a letter or face to face, but they were told they weren’t needed beyond the end of the year.
“I believe the number is between six and eight, which coincides with the number of posts the council were hoping to save.
“We were told by management it was unlikely anything would change before January 2020.”
Mr Mawhood said the decision was ‘dreadful’ and the situation with the service had become ‘unworkable’.
“Newport and Ryde could lose an appliance.
“They are setting the service up to fail so they can come in and change everything.
“These guys have given up other jobs to come over here and work on temporary contracts. It was always suggested full time contracts would come with time.”
Watts: ‘End to temporary contracts always planned’
Howard Watts, the Island’s senior fire officer, said:
“Seven temporary contracts were always due to end on 31 December.
“This will not change the availability of full-time fire engines on the Island.
“As part of the service review, staff are currently developing their own shift systems to ensure even more cover is available.
“The firefighters on temporary contracts can return to their on-call duties once their current role ends.
“The on-call resource is already providing a safe level of cover on the Island but this will bolster it further, taking the total to 95.
“All fire services would love to have more, including on the Island, where the ideal total would be 115 on-call firefighters.
“However, the Island has never had this level of on-call cover.
“The Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service is constantly recruiting more on-call firefighters and the current campaign has attracted a strong level of interest.”
12.21 comment from Howard Watts added
13.05 total number of on call firefighters amended from 80 to 95
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some additions by OnTheWight. Ed