Video: Cuts hitting fire service in Derry, says Donaldson; fire service boss Michael Graham responds

Fire service chief Michael Graham has acknowledged fire appliances have been crewed ‘differently’ in Derry as a result of budget pressures this year.

But the Chief Fire & Rescue Officer (Interim) has moved to reassure the public that this has not had an impact on the service’s ability to respond to major incidents.

Fire service.

Fire service.

Mr. Graham has responded to claims by the DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson that ‘cuts’ were having an impact in Derry. Mr. Donaldson pointed to a £7.5m reduction in the fire service’s annual budget from £81.6m in 2011/12 to £74.1m in 2019/20.

“The cuts are...having an impact in Londonderry. It concerns us that the capacity of the fire and rescue service to respond to major incidents is being diminished in Northern Ireland,” Mr. Donaldson said during a debate on the North’s budget bill in the British House of Commons.

Mr. Graham told the ‘Journal’ budget pressures were having an impact in Derry. He said changes to the crewing of fire engines at the Crescent Link fire station were among a range of measures taken across the service in response to funding shortfalls.

“The current measures have been risk assessed and include crewing Fire Appliances differently in Crescent Link Station.

“They are necessary to ensure that we use the resources available to us in a way that not only allows us to breakeven but delivers a safe and effective service across all of Northern Ireland,” said the top fire officer.

Mr. Graham said the service was still facing budget pressures despite these changes.

“NIFRS identified a £3.2 million pressure on its budget at the start of the financial year. We have reduced some of this pressure through a number of low impact savings measures.

"However there is still a pressure of approximately £2 million and NIFRS are continuing to review this position in liaison with the Department of Health,” he said.