Dozens of firefighters have been cut from the service that attends emergencies in Berkshire.

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) has 86 fewer full-time (wholetime and on-call firefighters) compared to 2011, with 399 in post as of the end of March.

The decline in Berkshire staff is mirrored nationally, with a 23 per cent drop seen across England in the same decade, according to Home Office data.

The Fire Brigades Union, which represents firefighters, said anyone working in the public sector frontline would agree that "austerity is not over".

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Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said the sector had been calling for new funding for years.

He added: “For fire and rescue, every pound cut from our budget means a greater likelihood of smaller crew numbers, fire stations shutting, and the loss of resources such as fire engines.

“In turn this all means longer response times to incidents, and a greater risk to lives, property, heritage and the environment.”

While the number of incidents attended overall has steadily been declining nationally, the response time to fires has increased.

A spokesperson for RBFRS said: “During the past 10-year period, RBFRS has introduced a number of service changes which were subject to public consultation for the benefit of the people we serve, in what has been and continues to be a challenging financial period.

“These changes have led to greater efficiencies, improved collaboration with our partners and enabled us to offer better value for money to the Berkshire taxpayer.

“While over the years there has been a fluctuation in the workforce, we continue to work hard to be efficient in the delivery of our public services, meaning that residents continue to receive a high level of service.

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“Recruitment efforts are currently ongoing, with more whole-time firefighters due to join RBFRS this month and another intake due to join early next year.”

The Government said it had "consistently" given emergency services the resources they need to keep people safe.

A spokesman added: “We have recruited more than half of the promised 20,000 additional police officers, invested £2.3 billion this year to support the work of firefighters and NHS England have given ambulance trusts an extra £55 million to boost staff numbers ahead of winter.”