“WE feel that we are already at the bare minimum now and there’s nowhere else to go”.
Those were the words of Fire Brigades Union (FBU) member and Pembroke Dock Fire Station watch manager Graeme Callan.
Speaking only as an FBU representative, Mr Callan told the Milford Mercury of his concerns over proposals to replace full-time firefighters with part-time cover at Pembroke Dock and Milford Haven fire stations.
Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (MAWWFRS) needs to save £2.6m in 2014/15 and a further £1.5m in 2015/16, members of the senior management team were warned at a meeting in November.
Mr Callan said: “Proposals have been put in place to remove the current 13 full-time firefighters – 26 in total - from both Pembroke Dock and Milford Haven. This equates to two thirds of the guaranteed full-time operational crews in Pembrokeshire.
“This is not the first time Pembrokeshire has been cut - not so long ago there were 72 full-time firefighters to cover Pembrokeshire’s industrial and community risks. Today there are 39 and if what is proposed goes ahead there will be 13.
“The county is paying in around £5.7m to the fire service this year, this figure keeps going up and services are going down.”
Mr Callan said there were concerns over the availability of part-time firefighters because all of them have other jobs.
“There have been occasions when we have borrowed staff between stations, but if there aren’t enough full-time staff we will no longer be able to do that,” Mr Callan said.
He added: “By fitting smoke alarms and making members of the public more aware of fire safety, we have cut back the number of fires. Now we feel that, for all our good efforts, they are downgrading the station.
“We have worked hard in these communities – for the last 23 years for me – and we would not want these communities to suffer.
“Management and the FBU are trying to work together on this and we do understand that this is not an issue passed on by management but central government.”
Merging Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceridigion command areas is another proposal being considered.
The budget will be considered by the fire authority at a meeting next week.