TWO west Wirral fire stations could be axed as fire authority budget cuts are predicted to bite further.
Merseyside Fire Authority is already dealing with £9m budget cuts from 2011 to 2013 but is expecting to be told it will have to save a minimum of £8.5m from 2013 to 2015.
It is understands that “best case” scenario would put stations in Heswall and West Kirby as well as Aintree, Allerton, Eccleston at risk.
Eleven fire engines would be stripped from service and as many as 150 fire fighters put out of work.
The worst case feared by the authority when ministers announce the service’s grant settlement in December is that £17m may have to be found.
Chief fire officer Dan Stephens warned there was “no possibility” that non-frontline cuts would deliver those savings.
Merseyside has already shed 92 firefighter jobs and 80 support staff in a bid to address its current budget black hole and staff are subject to a three-year pay freeze.
Mr Stephens said: “All we can assume is that Merseyside is cut in line with the national average, which will be around £8.5m. But if we are treated as we were in the first two years, it will be two times that amount.
“The most concerning thing for me is that any fat I may have had as chief fire officer to deliver savings has gone.
“We have already picked the low-hanging fruit and there are now no easy decision for us to make. Anything we cut now will have an impact.”
Merseyside was particularly hard hit previously because government funding makes up a bigger proportion of its overall spending.
The service receives around two-thirds of its budget through central funds, relying on a relatively low precept – the amount of money it gets from council tax bills – to plug the gap.
Mr Stephens has now briefed council leaders over a scheme which would see the precept increased by 4% – the maximum rise allowed – to help raise an additional £1.1m per year.