FIREFIGHTERS from Ellesmere Port are being withdrawn from frontline duties even though the country is in a heightened state of terrorist alert.
Four station officers are due to be re-deployed to posts elsewhere and are among 12 across the county affected by the changes.
But Cheshire Fire Service spokeswoman Hilary Williams said the move will not adversely effect Ellesmere Port and that the town will still have a state-of-the-art fire service.
She said: 'The 12 officers are being re-aligned to an enhanced role to support already identified community needs and there will definitely be no redundancies.
'By managing better training, annual leave and absence from duty there will be no material change to the number of operational firefighters assigned to ride fire engines in Ellesmere Port.'
Ms Williams added: 'A number of options are being considered for the re-deployment of resources such as putting additional firefighters on overtime at certain times of the day to supplement the current cover of small rubbish fires, leaving full structural tenders on stations to deal with true emergencies.
'Cheshire Fire Service is also investing in good and proper administrative support to station personnel to free them up from administrative duties to enable them to undertake community safety work.'
However, the move has been criticised by Cheshire Fire Brigades' Union (FBU) secretary Dave Williams.
He said: 'The four station officers were due to leave Ellesmere Port on May 1 but they have since received notification that this will now take place on May 17.
'This means that each of the four watches will be losing a station officer.
'It will result in a reduction of 20 firefighters to 19 on each particular shift. We are not happy at all about these men not being replaced.'
Mr Williams added: 'Because of the increase in wages, the Government will be looking to make savings.
'This is only the beginning of firefighters not being replaced when they are most needed.'
However, Hilary Williams said: 'All the changes in the Integrated Risk Management Plan are designed to ensure that local risks are analysed and reviewed and the service provided will be very specific to that area.
'Where once there were national standards, we now have a fire service that is resourced and managed to standards that meet local needs.
'Ellesmere Port will have a state-of-the-art fire service that will respond to the specific needs of the Ellesmere Port area and nowhere else.'