fire chiefs have no plans to recruit wholetime firefighters for the next SEVEN years, the YEP can reveal.
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service placed a freeze on recruiting three years ago.
But the YEP can reveal nearly 350 firefighters have retired since the freeze was introduced in September 2009.
And this week the service confirmed it was “highly unlikely” to recruit new wholetime firefighters for the “foreseeable future”.
Union officials fear young adults are missing out on becoming firefighters. David Williams, the Fire Brigades Union’s divisional secretary for West Yorkshire, said: “We have just missed complete generations.”
There are currently 1,237 firefighters across West Yorkshire with the youngest aged 24.
But if the recruitment freeze continues until 2020 there will be just 798 firefighters – the youngest aged 31.
Mr Williams added: “They haven’t recruited since 2009. People have gone and all the skills are not being passed on to the next generation. We’re going to end up having to practically reinvent the wheel.”
The news comes after the FBU warned members are set to strike on today (Dec 13) and tomorrow (Dec 14) as part of their ongoing dispute with the Government over pensions.
Steve Rhodes, assistant chief officer for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said: “Our long-term financial planning is based on Government indications that cuts in the public sector will continue through the next spending review. With this in mind, we are planning for continued budget reductions. At this time it seems highly unlikely that WYFS will be able to recruit wholetime firefighters for the foreseeable future.”
The service said they have recruited 14 on-call (retained) firefighters.