During the firefighters' dispute of 2002-3 I used to follow the thinking of the rank and file FBU members on their "30k" website (£30,000 was what firefighters were fighting for as an average wage). Firefighters resented the fact that improvements in fire safety meant a bit less work for firefighters meant politicians and management scratching their heads trying to think up other things for firefighters to do.
Typical management mentality, in short, ranking alongside such abominations as hot-desking and just-in-time production.
In short, as soon as the job had got a bit less stressful, fire chiefs would try to re-introduce a bit more stress. I'm reminded of that in this clip featuring David Cameron, telling a firefighter that he wants the current cuts to be "sustainable". Painful, yes, but, were national finances to improve, not such that what had been cut could be restored!
This really gives the game away as to what these "inevitable" cuts are actually largely about: ratcheting down public sector workers' pay and conditions of work. Permanently. Sorry, sustainably.
In the clip, Cameron describes a visit he made to firefighters in Liverpool who, reading between the lines, are being made by their fire chief to do other things besides put out fires - in this case, bid (do what?) to deliver council services. The mind boggles. What sort of services? I can imagine the Local Strategic Partnership in Liverpool calling in the fire chief and asking what secondary uses his staff might put their hoses, ropes and ladders to.
I bet Liverpool firefighters are over the moon.
(Thanks to an anonymous friend for tipping us off about the clip.)