If they keep cutting we will bleed

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The first cut is the deepest, as the saying goes.

But in the case of man versus fire, each successive cut can mean the difference between life and death.

The five minutes extra it will take retained crews to attend an incident, following the planned axe of Lancaster’s second engine, could mean a child losing its life, suffering smoke inhalation.

It could take a vital five minutes longer to cut a person out of a car, to help rescue a stranded child, to pump water out of a flooded home.

An extra five minutes is certainly long enough to kill a person trapped in a house from heat and smoke inhalation.

It is understandable that cuts have to be made in the face of pressing public sector financial pressure.

But the Lancashire Fire and Rescue service has been forced to make painful decisions in the face of crippling budget slashing.

They want to save lives but reduced to this level – can they?

There is no doubt that in the face of fire it is all hands to the pumps as crews rush across the county.

But in a city the size of Lancaster, with a rapidly growing population and ambitious plans for rapid housing development in the next few decades, to cut fire provision to this level is madness.

The firefighters on the ground, doing the work of saving lives, are seriously concerned and fear the public do not understand the implications of such a decision.

This is not about job losses – the crews are confident they would be redeployed.

But they are employed to save lives – and they want to do that.