THE firefighters' union has vowed to continue to oppose cuts to staffing numbers and appliances, despite recent revisions to city mayor Andy Burnham's "programme for change".

Initially, 194 firefighter posts were to be shed across Greater Manchester Fire and Resuce Service (GMFRS), but any redundancies have been postponed at least until the end of the current financial year on March 31, 2020.

Oldham fire station has now been reduced from two to just one appliance - the same level of cover Hollins and Chadderton stations also have, as GMFRS cut the total number of appliances from 56, ultimately to 47 by next April.

The Fire Brigades Union's (FBU) Greater Manchester organiser Karl Sorfleet, said that although the fire service had 56 appliances until recently it had only been operating 52 because of staff shortages.

"We've been relying very heavily on overtime," he told The Oldham Times. "We need 15 people willing to work overtime per shift to operate 50 pumps.

"Our view is that we don't agree with any removal of pumps, stations or staff of any sort.

"Our thinking is that the smaller the service is, the bigger the risk.

"We've got a growing population and the effects of austerity mean that people are making their electrical appliances last longer, thereby increasing the risk of fire.

"We've got a growing city and cutting the fire service doesn't seem to reflect that. This is down to the continuation of the austerity programme."

A GMFRS spokesperson said that October 2 the service moved to 50 pumps across the city region.

They said: "This is in line with our updated programme for change proposals following consultation that was presented at the Greater Manchester Combined Authority meeting on September 27.

"We implemented these changes as soon as practically possible after consideration of these proposals.

"They have been discussed and agreed during the consultation period with the trade unions and will not affect our overall current operational availability.

"We understand the concerns of some of our front line colleagues regarding this change and will continue to communicate regularly with them to ensure they are kept updated on any further developments related to changes to the service.”