Plans to merge fire control rooms in the West Midlands will put lives at risk, the Fire Brigade Union has warned.
The proposals will see fire control rooms in Staffordshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire, Hereford and Worcester and West Midlands close down and move to a new centre in Coven, near Wolverhampton, from next year.
Derek Davis, chairman of Staffordshire Fire Authority, has attacked the Government plans, claiming they were nothing more than a multi million pound smokescreen to slash employee pay irrespective of the effect this will have on safety.
Coun Davis said he was astonished at what he learned during planning meetings to discuss pay and conditions at the new centre.
He said: “There would then be a major attack on pay and conditions, with talk of pay cuts of up to £10,000.
“I am certain this will undermine public firefighter safety in Staffordshire and across the region.
“I have personally assured highly skilled emergency fire control personnel in Staffordshire that their pay and conditions are assured if they move to the new centre in Wolverhampton.
“I was astonished therefore to find out that this may not occur and the opposite could happen as soon as the centres are up and running early next year.”
Chris Wood, FBU regional officer for the West Midlands, said: “I am appalled that elected members who make up the regional management board are prepared to pretend to the public and emergency control staff that everything is fine with the new project, when they know it is not true.
“In secret, they have decided to cut pay in the emergency control centres by £10,000 a year.
“Quality of staff will plummet, and we will end up with a call centre instead of a emergency control centre. This will put lives at risk.”
Andy Dark, FBU assistant general secretary, said: “It’s a disgraceful attitude and displays utter contempt for the people that work tirelessly out of public view to ensure that the fire and rescue service delivers to the public when they need it most. A spokesman for West Midlands Fire & Rescue Services regional control centre said: “As new personnel are concerned, it is our intention to offer packages designed to attract high quality talent whilst recognising the need to deliver best value.”