Significant proposed reductions to the fire service in Epping Forest were making our headlines five years ago this week.

Heavy cuts to fire service coverage in Epping Forest are likely to be confirmed next week.

Three options have been set out for the future of Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, with the Essex Fire Authority likely to choose one of them on Wednesday, June 8.

Each of the three options would see Loughton lose one of its two fire engines, and Waltham Abbey station changed from day crew – firefighters in the station Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm – to on-call, with crews responding from home or other workplaces.

Essex Fire Brigades Union secretary Alan Chinn-Shaw said the union “absolutely opposes” the cuts.

He claimed fewer fires and emergencies in the district will see a response in under 10 minutes.

He said: “Fire coverage will be considerably reduced from what it is now.

“It is quite clear that the longer you have to wait for an appliance, there is an increase in likelihood in injuries or that incident becoming a fatal incident.

“Statistically, about 10 minutes from ignition of the fire your survival chances plummet significantly so it is essential we get an appliance there in under 10 minutes.”

He said the union is not currently planning strike action, and awaits the fire authority’s verdict next week.

If the public supports the cuts, he said, it would be “remiss” for industrial action.

However, he added: “If they are putting in place cuts that would jeopardise firefighter safety, that would be a different matter.”

Of the three options being considered next week, option two has been favoured by members of the public and fire service employees.

It would see 66 fire engines remain countywide, with second vehicles removed from five stations.

The number of “wholetime” firefighters – permanently based at, or mobilised from stations – will drop from 570 to 432, with on-call numbers rising from 437 to 456.

Under option two, an average band D tax property would see an annual increase of £1.35 going towards the service.

It is hoped that the option would save £6.4million, with funding cuts expected annually to 2020.

In a recent public consultation, just one per cent of respondents favoured the other two options presented, which would have saved more money at the expense of more firefighters and engines.

Another 24 per cent of people supported none of the options.

Acting chief fire officer Adam Eckley said: “Over the last 10 years we have seen huge changes in demand for our service.

“Nationwide incidents have reduced by 42 per cent and in Essex they have fallen by 45 per cent, despite growth in population and traffic in the county.”