West Yorkshire’s chief fire officer is to recommend a further raft of changes to emergency cover next week.
Chief Fire Officer Simon Pilling explained that the success of the brigade’s fire safety work over the past decade meant that there was real scope for change and that investment in infrastructure would allow him to relocate fire stations and resources to more optimum locations.
“Accidental fire deaths and injuries are at an all-time low and some stations are now half as busy as they were a few years ago so we can rationalise and modernise the service whilst still providing effective fire cover.”
Mr. Pilling also emphasised that the county’s fire authority was likely to face budget cuts up to 2020 and had to make long-term provision to redesign and reshape fire cover according to present and future risks.
“We know we have to find cuts of between and £8-12m over the next two years – and already have plans in place -- but all the messages coming out of central government project further reductions in financial support for local authorities up to 2020,” he explained.
“Doing nothing is not an option as my inability to recruit would eventually leave fire stations as glorified garages with unstaffed vehicles and equipment.”
If released for public consultation by West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority on 7 September, Mr. Pilling’s proposals would see the number of full-time firefighter posts reduce by 200 but eventually deliver revenue savings of £8m.
Although radical, his proposals would improve fire engine response times in 23 higher risk local electoral wards.
* Rationalise emergency cover in the Keighley and Haworth areas by closing Haworth
Fire Station and removing one fire engine from Keighley
* Merge Shipley and Idle fire stations at a new site between the two
* Replace one engine at Odsal with the command unit vehicle
* Introduce a fire response unit (FRU) at Fairweather Green to replace one fire engine
* Merge Hunslet and Morley fire stations at a two-appliance station between the two
* Merge Rothwell and Garforth at a one-appliance station between the two
* Merge Cookridge and Moortown at a one-appliance station between the two
* Remove an engine from Stanningley
* Rationalise emergency cover in the Wakefield city area by building a replacement fire
station for Ossett closer to the city and removing one engine from Wakefield
* Rationalise cover in the Colne Valley by closing Marsden Fire Station
* Align emergency cover in the Halifax area to risk by removing one engine from Halifax
Further details will be published on 7 September if West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority agrees to consult on the proposals.