THERE is no doubt Essex Fire Service has to make some tough decisions.

It must save of millions of pounds and yesterday plans to restructure the service were announced.

The service admits it doesn’t need the 570 full-time firefighters employed due to a drop in the number of fires that need to be tackled. Some fire engines also face the axe and 138 firefighters could go.

The service must tailor its budget according to need like any other organisation under the current financial cosh and it is understandable it is considering such measures in the face of less call-outs.

Crews dealt with 50 per cent fewer incidents in 2014 compared to 2004, and many were false alarms.

No one could argue that it seems pointless to pay firefighters the same to do less.

To some extent firefighters have become the victims of their own success. When not putting their lives on the line dealing with serious blazes, firefighters go into every community delivering the fire safety message and promoting the use of fire alarms.

The public will need to be reassured enough crews will be left to deal with emergencies.

If one station and its crews are lost in an area, will the crews left be able to deal with a sudden major incident?

If the service can give that guarantee to the public they will be happy, but until then the jury will be out on the cuts.