This week the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in North Yorkshire stepped up their campaign against cuts to the local fire and rescue service which would see six fire engines replaced with smaller ‘tactical response vehicles’ which carry fewer firefighters and less equipment.
The union plans to distribute 30,000 leaflets to the public and launch a dedicated website (www.no2firecuts.com) to raise awareness of the cuts they say will increase emergency response times and see firefighters turn up to emergencies without full life-saving equipment.
Steve Howley, secretary of the FBU in North Yorkshire, said: “These cuts could result in firefighters attending a fire and not being able to do anything because they are waiting for a full size fire engine to turn up from miles away with the right equipment and adequate numbers of firefighters.
“These cuts will mean that in the past five years 20% of the firefighting force has been axed. Worryingly these figures do not include the 200 part time firefighters who have been forced to resign as a result of the pressures of work, being on-call and retirements.
“The service is already looking to reduce from 46 to 27 the number of fire engines that respond to emergencies by increasing response times to 5 minutes, 15 minutes or 1 hour. In an emergency every minute counts and it will be the public who pay the price for these cuts as the five fire deaths so far this year highlight.
“The geographical layout of North Yorkshire with its 3,300 square miles, 1.2 million population and its large country roads make it difficult to cover. These cuts will put more pressure on an already over-stretched service.”
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue plan to replace the six front line fire engines with smaller ‘tactical response vehicles’ which carry fewer firefighters and less equipment at fire stations in Harrogate, Scarborough, Ripon, Tadcaster, Northallerton and Malton.
The service is also planning a mixed crewing system where full-time and part-time firefighters respond to emergencies together. The FBU has pointed out that it can however take part-time firefighters up to five minutes to respond to a call, delaying the whole emergency service response.
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