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Fire Service

Volume 640: debated on Thursday 18 May 1961

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59.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware of the serious undermanning of the fire service in Staffordshire; and what steps he will take to ensure the maintenance of an adequate and efficient service.

There have been exceptional difficulties in recruiting men to the Staffordshire fire brigade, but despite these difficulties, which I do not underrate, the brigade is providing an acceptable standard of fire cover. Responsibility for maintaining an adequate and efficient service rests primarily on the fire authority, and I know that they are doing everything they can to remedy the manpower shortage.

60.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now set up an independent commission of inquiry on the status, pay and conditions of the fire service in the United Kingdom, to make recommendations on how to secure an adequate and efficient service.

I received a deputation representing the National Association of Fire Officers and the Fire Brigades Union earlier this week. I informed the deputation that I had difficulty in accepting the proposal that there should be an independent inquiry into a matter which had not been the subject of discussion on the recognised negotiating body for the service. I have, however, undertaken to discuss with representatives of the local fire authorities the representations which have been made to me.

66.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of the existing fire brigade strength throughout England and Wales consists of men who entered the service in 1939; how many retirements are expected during the next five years; and how many men were recruited to the service in each of the last three years.

I am obtaining and will send to the hon. Member information about the number of serving firemen who entered the service in 1939 or earlier and the retirements expected during the next five years. The numbers of whole-time men recruited to the fire service in England and Wales in 1958, 1959 and 1960 were 1,346, 1,565 and 1,744, respectively.