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Firefighters providing essential flood support face cuts

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Issue 2391

Firefighters have been rescuing those trapped by the floods across Britain.

But in some of the worst-hit areas fire services are facing devastating cuts. 

Surrey has seen serious flooding after the Thames burst its banks. 

But at the beginning of the month the council voted to close two full-time fire stations and merge them into one at Spelthorne.

There are 35 engines in Surrey. Spelthorne will be given one engine. 

Already ten of the 12 on-call fire engines in Surrey are unavailable because of crew shortages.

FBU brigade secretary for Surrey Richard Jones told Socialist Worker, “We have reached a crisis point in our funding.  

“And now we’re expecting huge cuts. We’ve got to a stage where firefighters can’t go out and respond to situations because we don’t have the resources.”

Firefighters are put at risk because their equipment is designed to keep out heat and smoke—not cold and often dirty water.

Both the Tories and the previous Labour government have refused to make floods a “statutory responsibility” for the fire brigades.

This means they get no extra funding—so money for flood relief has to come out of their existing budget—which is being slashed.

The army faced ridicule last week when it turned up in flooded areas badly prepared without waders.

“They’re getting other agencies involved, but we’re the only ones that can deal with things like this,” said Richard.

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