THERE are 250 fewer firefighters in Essex compared to 2010, union bosses have claimed.

The Fire Brigades Union is calling on the Government to fund a recruitment drive to ensure people remain safe.

Figures compiled by the FBU show there are 9,769 fewer firefighters in England – a 21 per cent reduction.

In Essex, the shortfall represents an 18 per cent drop, and that is despite an increase in officers last year.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “This shameless Government is doing nothing to ease the pressure on overstretched and underpaid firefighters, all while making dubious claims of spending elsewhere.

“Fire and rescue services are in crisis after years of brutal cuts and this year’s measly increase in posts is wholly insufficient to plug the gaps.

“We cannot allow firefighters’ lifesaving work to go unrecognised.

“The Chancellor must fund firefighter recruitment and end the years of real-term pay cuts for firefighters.

“Our communities need more firefighters and the Government needs to reflect the work they do in their pay cheques.”

Essex deputy chief fire officer Rick Hylton said: “I want to reassure you in the strongest possible terms there will always be a fire crew there for you in the event of an emergency.

“Following two successful whole-time recruitment campaigns in April last year and April this year, we recruited 42 new whole time firefighters last year, with another 54 starting their training from this October.

“Another 138 on-call firefighters have also joined our service since January 2018.

“That means our total number of firefighters is 1,182, who are based at 50 stations throughout Essex.

“In line with our succession planning, we will also be looking to recruit whole-time firefighters again next summer.

“We are also continuing to recruit firefighters at on-call fire stations across the county.”