A FORMER fire station chief fears a blaze at one of Frinton’s high-rise tower blocks could cost lives if cuts go ahead as planned.

One of Frinton Fire Station’s two engines will be axed in January as part of a cost-cutting measure by Essex County Fire and Rescue Service.

Ex-firefighter and former Frinton station officer Mark Oxley worked at the station for 20 years.

He fears the move, which he says will save £50,000 a year, will be a serious threat to residents living in the Frinton and Walton area.

He said: “It’s a danger to Frinton and Walton residents and the amount of high rise buildings should be taken into account after the Grenfell Tower fire in London.

“Cutting the service by 50 per cent is a very dangerous road to go down - it’s playing with fire.

“The saving is only about £50,000 - that’s not a great saving.”

Firefighters were told 18 months ago that the station’s second engine would be cut by January.

As part of the service’s cost-cutting, measures, the number of full-time firefighters could be slashed from 570 to just 336 across the county.

“It’s going to be particularly dangerous as the last time we checked, the Frinton and Walton station protected about 20,000 people - it’s huge,” Mr Oxley added.

“Frinton has nine high-rise buildings and by halving the amount of firefighters you would not have the man power to be able to save lives.”

A spokesman for the service said one engine will be removed following analysis which looked into the service’s coverage across the county.

He said: “The research showed the service would still be able to meet its target response times after one fire engine was removed from Frinton.

“The fire service consulted with the pubic on these changes in 2016, which resulted in the largest consultation Essex County Fire and Rescue has ever carried out.

“Nearly 18,000 people made their opinion known and 73 per cent of respondents supported the changes being made across the service.”