Firefighters fear more budget cuts will mean dismissing a third of the force
Firefighters in the Czech Republic are greatly concerned at the course their budgets are taking. As the money from the Ministry of the Interior steadily decreases, the firemen’s union warns that further cuts may lead to substandard services.
“As a result of the nearly 1.5 billion cut last year, operational costs were cut to a minimum and investments are de facto at zero – there are only unavoidable costs for maintenance. We can survive 2012, but at the cost of decreasing our numbers, which certainly is not to the benefit of the services provided to the public. There is nowhere left to save except on salaries.”
“The emergency response time would have to be increased because certain fire stations would have to be closed down. If we count on that 1.5 billion crown cut for example, that means dismissing 3,000 firemen. Today, we are supposed to have 9,026 firemen. So as you can see, it would mean losing one entire shift.”
Meanwhile, the cabinet has created something of a future conundrum for itself if it plans to abide by its medium-term budget, as the services that the fire department must provide is dictated by law, but the budget may not allow those services to be provided in full. In order for the budget to be followed, the law would have to be re-written to limit services, the union says.
Meanwhile, the firefighters’ union points out that with an estimated eight billion crowns worth of property saved from fires last year alone, there is nothing economical about cutting firefighting services.