Fire shake-up could cost lives

Linda Riordan MP for Halifax.
Linda Riordan MP for Halifax.

Halifax Fire Station is set to lose 16 firefighters, four watch managers and one fire engine in a move that an MP has said could put lives at risk.

The shakeup will see 20 members of staff transferred to other stations in the district, but West Yorkshire Fire Service is yet to notify crews who will be moved and where they will be posted.

Halifax Station is also set to lose one of its fire engines on Monday, meaning it will be left with a Combined Aerial Rescue Pump (CARP) - which because of their size can struggle getting down narrow roads - and a resilience pump.

However, with new shift patterns - four watches with six crew members - only one vehicle can be dispatched at a time.

With crews relying on local knowledge to decide which appliance to dispatch there is the potential for increased response times.

This could therefore put lives at risk and Halifax MP Linda Riordan has called for the authority to reconsider its decision.

“These cutbacks are wrong, could put lives at risk and will make the service worse not better,” she said. “I think the fire authority should think again, before they go down a road of cost cutting in such an important public service.”

The cuts were first proposed in December 2012, went through a comprehensive consultation process and have now been approved by the authroity.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton said: “We would like to reassure the public that these changes have been thoroughly risk assessed and adequate fire cover will remain in place. We will work closely with the personnel at Halifax to ensure that we cause the minimum disruption possible at this time of change.”

Mr Walton said the Calderdale district will receive additional resources to undertake further risk reduction activities in the higher risk areas of Halifax.