JOHN Healey has condemned government proposals to allow fire services to be privatised.

In a letter seen by Mr Healey, fire minister Brandon Lewis tells the chair of the House of Commons Regulatory Reform Committee that he is seeking the committee’s view on proposals “that would enable fire and rescue authorities in England to contract out their full range of services to a suitable provider.”

“Firefighting is a no-go area for privatisation. The first and last concern of our fire services must be public protection not company profit,“ said the MP.

''Areas like fire and rescue are essential public services on which we all depend for our safety, and sometimes our lives.“

The changes could mean South Yorkshire’s 700 firefighters and 22 fire stations being employed and run by a private company.

Mr Healey has led a 12-month national campaign pressing the government for a fairer funding settlement for Metropolitan fire services. The result was a cut to South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service over the next two years of £5m; £3m less than fire chiefs had feared.