WEST YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - Aug. 31, 2012) - West Yorkshire fire authority proposals to close more fire stations, and get rid of more fire engines and firefighters, on top of draconian cuts last year, will put residents' and firefighters' lives at risk, says the Fire Brigades Union.
"These cuts will slow response times, and in firefighting, seconds count," says the FBU's West Yorkshire brigade secretary David Williams. "A few seconds delay can be the difference between saving a life and failing to save it."
Last year the fire authority decided to:
- close 10 fire stations (and build just five new ones)
- get rid of seven front line fire appliances and
- reduce the number of operational fire fighters by 135, including 20 compulsory redundancies.
The effects of these cuts have not yet been felt. Nonetheless, this year the fire authority has proposed further cuts:
- a further 11 station closures (building just five new ones)
- another loss of a further 12 front line appliances and
- the loss of 250 operational firefighters with another 20 of those being compulsory redundancies.
This, if it is agreed, will mean 19 fewer fire appliances available for an immediate response to an emergency and a loss of one in five operational firefighters.
Acting FBU brigade secretary Dave Williams says:
"After last year's announcement of station closures they've planned over the next few years, firefighters across the county raised concerns for the safety of our communities and that of firefighters responding to emergencies. To propose a further raft of station closures and the loss of a further 250 frontline emergency firefighters is irresponsible beyond belief.
"Firefighters are members of these communities too and they know the impact these proposals will make if they are approved by the Fire Authority next week.
"Closing two fire stations and then building a new one to cover both station grounds means that fire crews will face longer journeys to arrive at emergency incidents, and longer response times will cost lives. We've already seen a significant increase in attendance times for the first appliance arriving from 5 minutes 41 seconds to at least 7 minutes."