Cabinet responds to the FBU’s concerns ahead of controversial vote

Councillor Tig Outlaw, cabinet member responsible for the fire service, and Howard Watts, the Island’s most senior fire officer, have responded to claims made by the Fire Brigades Union that the proposed Isle of Wight fire service review will put lives at risk.

Cllr Outlaw (Lake North) said: “These constant claims by the FBU are irresponsible and will worry residents needlessly.

“These common sense proposals for the Isle of Wight will realign full-time firefighters to meet the need.

“I think most people will understand that having firefighters in the right place at the right time will save lives, not put them in danger.

“I make no apologies for proposing firefighters be on duty when research shows the risk is greatest.

“Research I’ve done demonstrates fire authorities across the country use this model.

Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service attend an incident at the Floating Bridge

“Listening to the FBU, you could be forgiven for thinking fire services have stood still since the 1950s, but everyone knows this is simply not the case and that appliances, capabilities and equipment have progressed beyond recognition.

“The fire service on our Island needs to be more responsive to modern challenges and it needs to modernise. This is simply not about money, it’s about making the best of the resources to keep the public safe.”

Howard Watts, the Island’s most senior fire officer, added: “While I recognise the FBU’s concerns, I’m responsible for the safety of our firefighters and I will not put them at any increased risk.

“This move will not change our policy on the number of firefighters on fire engines.

“I believe our firefighters are the best in the country – they’re trained and equipped to the highest of standards.

“These changes will improve the service they deliver, making the community safer.”

The Isle of Wight Council cabinet will vote on the changes at 5pm in Ventnor Winter Gardens on Thursday (October 11).