THE news that Redbridge fire station is to be rebuilt (Echo 12 March) is to be welcomed.

It is to be hoped that the new station will be able to accommodate all the facilities that increasing responsibilities are placing on firefighters, such as the need to decontaminate equipment after dealing with chemical and biological hazards.

However, I must take issue with the misleading impression given by the Redbridge Labour city councillor quoted in the article, that all is rosy in the garden and that “these new facilities are a huge boost to our local area and will mean that residents can sleep soundly knowing that our firefighters have the buildings, tools and equipment they need2.

A decade of austerity has resulted in a 30% cut in government funding of fire and rescue services in England.

There are now 10,000 fewer frontline firefighters - a reduction of 20% in the workforce at the same time as the range of emergencies to which firefighters have been required to respond has increased.

Modest improvements in funding in the last two years – not even sufficient to cover inflation – have been nowhere near enough to repair the damage.

In Hampshire prudent financial management has minimised the impact of funding reductions on frontline services and firefighters will continue to go above and beyond to ensure that residents can sleep soundly, but a first-class service does not come cheap and needs proper funding.

The efforts of the Fire Brigades Union in opposing further funding cuts and fighting to protect and improve firefighter numbers, pay and conditions should be supported by us all.

Keith Morrell