STATISTICALLY, the case made for cuts to fire and rescue cover in the county stacks up.

But try arguing stats to whoever is on the other end of a 999 call.

Or maybe, to save money, the argument will be automated. For instance:

“Please hold, we’re sorry that your call is statistically the one in five to which our Hereford crew will arrive late – we value your contribution to our day.”

Let’s not mince words, the decision the fire authority faces next week is one of the biggest it will have to take.

About as big a call as any crew or incident commander will have to make in calling for back-up at an emergency scene.

That call not only has to take in how long back-up will take to arrive but what cover will be left countywide should another emergency call come in – maybe one even more serious.

All the while, that first crew on scene has to contain whatever it is faced with knowing back-up is further away, even much further away, than before.

At next Thursday’s meeting, we urge our fire authority members to argue from the point of view of crews rather than the politics of cuts.

It is, frankly, disgraceful that a chief fire officer, a fire and rescue service, and a fire authority should be put into such a position by a political agenda.

If, on the day, compromise has to be found amongst the authority, let it be on the basis that cuts go so far and no further.

The very nature of fire and rescue work means responses can’t be defined by statistics. Nor can those statistics save lives.