Plan to close two of our fire stations

FIRE stations in Brighouse and Elland could shut to meet Government spending cuts.

The sites would close and be replaced by one station in Rastrick if new proposals set to be unveiled next week are given the go ahead.

The plans would also see the loss of 102 full-time firefighter posts across West Yorkshire.

Chief Fire Officer for West Yorkshire Simon Pilling said the plans come after an emergency fire cover review he ordered last year identified critical areas of over and under provision “which could not be ignored”.

“Our innovative fire safety work has driven down deaths and injuries to an all-time low and some stations are now half as busy as they were a few years ago but the brigade still largely provides the same level of cover, from the same number of stations as it did when it was formed in 1974,” he said.

“On top of that, many of the stations we inherited from the old West Riding and county boroughs are now clearly no longer in the ideal place given the population shift.”

Mr Pilling said that while “piecemeal change” had so far improved effectiveness and brought significant economies, the prospect of losing around £18m of Government funding over the next four years meant “the pace of reform had to accelerate”.

He said: “The emergency cover review was primarily focused on life risk, making sure we can direct resources where they’re needed most.”

The stations in Brighouse and Elland would be two of 10 stations closed and replaced by five new buildings.

There are currently 24 firefighters on shift at Elland and another 24 at Brighouse. There are expected to be less working at Rastrick.

Mr Pilling said the new stations would have additional, back-up engines which would be crewed during times of high-demand.

“Put simply, fewer appliances based at optimum sites will enable the brigade to maintain excellent fire cover while also saving over £4m a year in running costs,” he said.

The plans would be put in place between April next year and 2017.

There would also be 102 full-time firefighter posts lost, but Mr Pilling said this would be through natural wastage.

Further details are set to be revealed at a meeting of the fire authority on Friday, September 9.

Calderdale Councillor Bryan Smith (Labour, Ovenden), who is vice-chairman of the authority’s finance and resources committee, said the plans seemed sensible as Brighouse and Elland are low call-out areas and the Rastrick location would be more central to where homes are and more suitable for dealing with incidents on the M62.

He said he understood the level of fire cover would not change, despite the loss of 102 posts, because of the changes in shift patterns.