Lincolnshire firefighters have warned that 999 response times to emergencies could rise by as much as five minutes if plans are given the go ahead to downgrade a local fire station.
In proposals under consideration by Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service, Lincoln South fire station that currently operates 24/7 could be downgraded to only operate during the day. The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in Lincolnshire has said the move would put members of the public in danger with firefighters taking longer to get to an emergency.
Ben Selby, FBU chair in Lincolnshire, said: “The suggestion that our service needs to be cut back further because of the declining number of fires is dangerous and misleading. Firefighters are responding to a greater array of emergencies in Lincolnshire such as flooding and medical rescues. Even more worrying is the fact that response times to fires nationally are at a 20 year high.
“In an emergency every second counts. A five minute increase in response times may sound minimal but it can be the difference between life and death. It is irresponsible to take any action that could raise response times by that much. These proposals will leave a trail of devastation for public safety in our county.”
A petition has been set up by local firefighters calling for Lincoln South fire station to be saved. It can be accessed here.
As part of Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) the downgrade of the fire station will also be accompanied by cuts to specialist equipment around the county.
The aerial ladder platform based in Skegness will be moved to Boston leaving the famous holiday resort without any high rise rescue equipment. Two rescue support units, frequently used to extricate victims from vehicles, will be axed from Grantham which is at particular risk of rail incidents and road traffic collisions.
Firefighters are dealing more often with the effects of flooding. Earlier this month the Environment Agency issued two flood warnings and 12 alerts in Lincolnshire owing to heavy rainfall.
Tory Lincoln councillor Mark Jones provoked the ire of local firefighters recently when he suggested on a local radio show that the reduction in house fires meant it was less important for fire crews to arrive quickly to other emergencies. The FBU said his comments should “disqualify him from ever having a say in the fire service” owing to his absurd statement.