ESSEX fire crews were short-handed at one in six 999 calls last year, shocking statistics showed yesterday.
Crews were understaffed at 16 per cent of the 14,000 emergency call-outs in 2014.
Firefighters’ union FBU said chronic understaffing is putting both the public and firefighters in mortal danger.
“Sending enough firefighters without delay to 999 emergencies can mean the difference between life and death and the difference between thousands or millions of pounds in damage,” said FBU East Anglia’s Keith Handscomb.
“These latest figures show that front-line cuts are already resulting in too few firefighters being routinely on board fire engines to commence lifesaving rescue operations as soon as they arrive at 999 emergencies.”
Essex Fire and Rescue Service has cut the number of firefighters serving at front-line stations by 15 per cent in the past decade.
And Essex Fire Authority’s current budget sets out the axing of one in 10 full-time firefighters and another 10 per cent cut in the retained force.
“Routinely sending firefighters to fires and other dangerous emergency situations underresourced and underequipped is a gamble. The more you gamble, the more likely you are to pay the price,” warned Mr Handscomb.