THE ISLE of Wight's Council's cabinet member responsible for the fire service, Tig Outlaw, has branded as 'irresponsible' claims made by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) that the proposed Isle of Wight fire service review will put lives at risk.

The original Isle of Wight Council plans were thrown out earlier this year for more scrutiny, but the FBU has said ‘nothing has changed’ in the new proposals.

However, Cllr Outlaw hit back branding the claims by the FBU 'irresponsible' and would worry residents needlessly.

He said: “These common sense proposals for the Isle of Wight will realign full-time firefighters to meet the need.

"I think most people will understand that having firefighters in the right place at the right time will save lives, not put them in danger.

"I make no apologies for proposing firefighters be on duty when research shows the risk is greatest.

“Research I’ve done demonstrates fire authorities across the country use this model.

"Listening to the FBU, you could be forgiven for thinking fire services have stood still since the 1950s, but everyone knows this is simply not the case and that appliances, capabilities and equipment have progressed beyond recognition.

"The fire service on our Island needs to be more responsive to modern challenges and it needs to modernise. This is simply not about money, it’s about making the best of the resources to keep the public safe.”

Howard Watts, the Island's most senior fire officer added: “While I recognise the FBU’s concerns, I’m responsible for the safety of our firefighters and I will not put them at any increased risk.

“This move will not change our policy on the number of firefighters on fire engines.

“I believe our firefighters are the best in the country – they’re trained and equipped to the highest of standards.

“These changes will improve the service they deliver, making the community safer.”