Fire cover reform plans given go-ahead

Halifax Fire Station, King Cross, Halifax
Halifax Fire Station, King Cross, Halifax
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Fire chiefs have approved radical plans to reform cover across West Yorkshire - which include removing a fire engine in Halifax.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority met this morning (Friday) to approve the plans put forward by Chief Fire Officer Simon Pilling.

The proposals - which aim to meet budget cuts - had been revised after attracting record levels of public feedback during a 12-week consultation.

Halifax fire station currently has two full-time manned pumps but under the new plans will have one removed.

However the station will keep a fully-equipped - but unmanned - back-up pump, known as a reslience pump, which could be used as an alternative to their Combined Aerial Rescue Pump (CARP), which is less able to reach restricted-access locations, such as a rural address.

This will allow the fire crew to choose the most appropriate pump for the area called to.

David Wiliams, the brigade secretary for the Fire Brigades’ Union West Yorksire branch, had previously campaigned to keep two fire engines in Halifax.

He told the Courier in September that risk factors alone showed the town deserved two fire engines and while incidents had fallen, call-outs to other areas were not included in the totting-up.

Mr Williams said: “How many incidents have Halifax been called to in Kirklees and Bradford?

“They do not report these figures and certainly the special CARP vehicle at Halifax is frequently required elsewhere because Kirklees has not got the same capability.”

The changes are understood to be implemented from 2013.

Chief fire officer Simon Pilling said: “There is no questioning the depth of feeling that the public have for the fire service.

“We do provide an incredibly important service for local communities and I cannot praise our firefighters enough for their continued dedication.

“These are expceptional difficult times for all public services but we cannot ignore the reality of financial cuts and the need to make fundamental changes to secure the future of the county’s fire service.”

Coun Mehboob Khan, chairman of the fire authority, said his colleagues had to make tough decisions and warned of further cuts to the service.

“The fight with Whitehall for fairer funding goes on. The authority is tackling, head on, its responsibility to provide and maintain the best fire and rescue service that resources will permit.”

He added: “We don’t take our duty lightly and applaud the record levels of community feedback regarding this important change for the county, taking some comfort in the fact that a great many consultees recognised our dilemma.

“That said, unless the precept rises by almost 10p per week per household, then as unpalatable as it will be, this authority will have to consider further cuts.”