WEST Midlands Fire Service is to receive a special Government grant to help pay the cost of fighting a massive blaze in Smethwick.
The cash-strapped service will receive 85 per cent of the extra expenditure it incurred as a result of the fire at a recycling plant, which sent a plume of smoke 6,000ft into the air and was attended by more than 200 fire-fighters.
The fire is estimated to have cost the emergency services and local businesses more than £6 million, but West Midlands Fire Service is in the process of calculating exactly how much it spent tackling the blaze.
Ministers spoke to the West Midlands Chief Fire Officer Vij Randeniya in the immediate aftermath to convey their thanks to the fire teams involved.
The extra cash will come from a Government fund called the Bellwin scheme.
Fire Minister Brandon Lewis said: “Fire-fighters did an excellent job getting the Smethwick blaze under control and the cause will be thoroughly investigated by West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority.
“Given the exceptional scale and nature of the fire and the costs involved in tackling it, requiring multiple services to respond, the government has activated its emergency response Bellwin scheme so we can give West Midlands Fire Service all the support it needs.”
More than 40 fire engines and aerial ladders were needed to bring the blaze under control and a dozen firefighters were injured.
It emerged last week that at one point, only one fire engine was free to cover the rest of the West Midlands.
West Midlands Fire Service is set to lose £27 million or 36 per cent of its government grant funding during the period between 2011 and 2016, and is losing more than 250 firefighters.
Councillor John Edwards, a former firefighter himself, hit out at the cuts last week, saying: “We were stretched to breaking point by the extraordinary demands placed on our shrinking resources.”
He added: “The further cuts for 2015 which they announced last week will impact on public safety, both in the speed of our response and in our fire prevention work.”