Axing fire stations gets a green light

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PLANS to build a new fire station to replace those in Brighouse and Elland have been welcomed by Calderdale Council.

It will lead to the loss of 24 full-time firefighters.

“The proposal has been well received by the community,” Coun Ann McAllister (Con, Rastrick) told the cabinet.

Coun Roger Taylor (Con, Northowram and Shelf) added: “It makes sense logistically and from a practical point of view because these days it is more about fire prevention than fire fighting.”

The council’s community services spokeswoman, Coun Pauline Nash (Lib-Dem, Skircoat) said building a new fire station in the Rastrick area was part of a bigger plan by West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority, which includes losing 102 firefighters, closing 10 stations and building five new ones.

Elland is classed as low risk and Brighouse as very low risk in respect of fire-related emergencies.

But their proximity to the M62 means crews respond to a higher- than-average number of road accidents.

According to fire chiefs, a new station in Rastrick would improve arrival times in the higher-risk areas of Huddersfield and mean a quicker response to road accidents on the M62.

The new Rastrick station would continue to provide a specialist water-rescue capability.

The scheme has the backing of Coun Bryan Smith (Lab, Ovenden) who represents Calderdale on the fire authority.

He said: “Brighouse fire station needs a great deal of refurbishment and the one in Elland needs a lot of modernisation. These plans are a good idea.”

West Yorkshire fire crews have warned of major public safety concerns and longer attendance times to 999 incidents with fewer stations, crews and appliances spread much more thinly.

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.”

He said there were times when the fire service had been seriously stretched, even with the current resources.