Safety concerns as West Yorkshire builds a bonfire of the fire service – 10 stations axed and one in ten frontline posts to go
West Yorkshire fire crews are warning of major public safety concerns over plans to axe 10 fire stations and lose 135 frontline firefighters – one in ten of the current crews who attend emergency incidents. The result will be longer attendance times to 999 incidents with fewer stations, crews and appliances spread much more thinly.
Every area of the 999 response will be hit including fires, road traffic crashes, flooding, dealing with the aftermath of major terrorist incidents and a wide range of other emergencies the service responds to. The union warns of increased risk to lives and homes, businesses and workplaces.
Under the plans the fire authority proposes to close 10 Fire Stations and replace them with 5 new builds and remove 7 front line fire appliances from service. In total this will be around 135 fewer front line firefighters available to respond to 999 emergencies.
West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority has put forward several proposals that they want to implement by 2017. These proposals will have a serious impact on the service provision that you currently receive, they include:
• The removal of the 2nd Fire Appliance from Moortown and replaced with a smaller Fire Response Unit – loss of 12 full time firefighter posts
• Transfer the 2nd Fire Appliance from Silsden to Keighley to be used as a resilience pump – loss of 5 retained firefighter posts
• The closure of South Elmsall and Hemsworth Fire Stations and a new fire station built to replace them – the loss of 23 firefighter posts (full time & retained ff’s)
• The closure of Otley and Rawdon Fire Stations and a new fire station built to replace them – the loss of 23 firefighter posts (full time and retained ffs)
• The closure of Brighouse and Elland Fire Stations and a new fire station built to replace them – the loss of 24 full time firefighter posts
• The closure of Batley and Dewsbury Fire Stations and a new fire station built to replace them – the loss of 24 full time firefighter posts
• The closure of Gipton and Stanks Fire Stations and a new fire station built to replace them – the loss of 24 full time firefighter posts
Yorkshire FBU Regional Secretary Pete Smith said: “These cuts are the worst we have ever seen and come on the back of already serious cuts to the service in recent years. Make no mistake, they are a threat to the safety of the public and firefighters – this is a bonfire of the fire service.
“We’ll have fewer stations, fewer frontline crews and fewer appliances spread more thinly. That means taking longer to get to 999 emergencies and with fires that means much larger and more dangerous fires when we get there.
“There will be a greater risk to life, to homes, businesses and workplaces. We’ll have a reduced chance of carrying out rescues with increased risk of much greater fire damage to any building which has a fire.
“These cuts will impact on everything we do as an all-round rescue service. This will reduce our ability to respond to major outdoor fires which have damaged our moorlands and major flooding which has hit this region in recent years.
“There are times when we have been seriously stretched even with our current resources. These cuts risk tipping us over the edge and that will have a very serious impact on the public.”