Fire chiefs in West Yorkshire are set to cut 150 jobs through retirement or voluntary redundancy as the service struggles to cover a £5.3 million Government funding shortfall.

The cuts, announced yesterday, will effect frontline firefighters and back-office staff – some at its headquarters in Birkenshaw, Bradford – making total savings of more than £3m this year and in 2012.

More savings will be made in the future by officers providing operational cover outside their normal working hours, a fire service spokesman said.

Mark Wilson, West Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union secretary, described the latest round of cuts as “unavoidable” after the brigade’s budget was cut by a quarter over the next five years in the Government comprehensive spending review.

However, he warned that members in West Yorkshire would become “more belligerent” if further cuts are made, which will put firefighters and the public at risk.

Mr Wilson said: “This is not an issue that we are happy with and we feel that, if in any way it compromises public or firefighter safety, we will be seeking to act but, by the same token, we will be looking to prevent any compulsory redundancies.”

He said the latest move would mean there would be fewer firefighters and back office staff, meaning those who kept their jobs would have to work more hours for the same pay.

And he warned: “There will be a tipping point. We have to say that it is in our members interests to go along with this so far but once that tipping point is reached, we will have to take a more belligerent position.”

West Yorkshire Fire Service said the losses are in areas where either workload has reduced or where services can be delivered more flexibly.

Horsforth councillor Chris Townsley, chairman of the fire authority’s personnel and training committee, said longer-term savings would be made through the “flexible duty system”, under which firefighters provide cover at incidents and events outside of their normal working hours.

About 15 posts will also be scrapped through natural wastage, freeing up almost £800,000 over the following three years.

Coun Townsley said: “There’s no doubt that the financial challenges facing the authority will demand radical solutions, but I’m pleased that we’re making important initial steps in co-operation with our staff to ensure that, wherever possible, changes don’t impact on the level of service people have rightly come to expect from their brigade.”

Last November, dozens of firefighters from Bradford travelled to London to join thousands of their colleagues from across the UK at Westminster to voice their opposition to the cuts amid union claims they could decimate frontline 999 services.