TWO elderly people who died in a fire at their Merseyside home might have been saved if the government had not viciously cut funding for fire and rescue services, firefighters have said.
Anne and John Farrell died in the blaze in Wirral early on Tuesday. Their nearest local fire station, West Kirby, was shut last year due to cuts. Fire crews from other stations were already dealing with a warehouse blaze. Although one tender arrived at the couple’s home, a second had to be summoned from miles away.
Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service — like others across the country — has been devastated by government cuts which have caused station closures, loss of engines and cuts to front-line firefighters.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) warned that it was now “pot luck” who received a “speedy and lifesaving response.”
Merseyside FBU secretary Mark Rowe said: “The government needs to get a handle on the atrocious budget cuts they’ve forced fire services to make. If West Kirby fire station had remained open we could be looking at a different outcome today.”
Merseyside FBU secretary Mark Rowe said the number of fire engines available to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service has been cut from 42 to 28.
He added: “Tragically, this incident highlights how the reckless Tory-led cuts have decimated our fire service and put our communities at greater risk.
“Fire cover in the Wirral has been rendered threadbare because of the cuts.”
A Merseyside Fire and Rescue spokesman conceded that “the impact of budget cuts to date has reduced the number of appliances available.
“(We have) made it very clear that this will have an impact on response times, in particular for second and subsequent appliances,” he said.