Property and lives could be put at risk in Atherstone if the county council proceeds with proposed cuts in the fire service saysLabour's Mike O’Brien.
The county council wants to cut the number of fire fighters by 30 and to remove the only full time crewed fire engine in Atherstone, leaving only a part time crewed fire appliance. The number of full time crewed fire engines in Nuneaton would also be reduced.
The plan will increase cover in the south of the county whilst cutting it in the north of Warwickshire.
Mike O’Brien said,
“People need to be aware of the consequences of these proposed cuts. There is a public consultation going on but the county council is sneaking this in so quietly that most people have not heard of it. The loss of the full time fire crew in Atherstone is a worry when you consider that two fire appliances are needed for each household fire.
“I oppose these cuts because they will increase the risk to property and lives by reducing the number of full time firefighters in the north of the county.”
The Labour County Council Candidate Hartshill by-election Chris Clark said that opposition to the fire cuts would be a key part of his campaign in the weeks up to the election on 22 May.
Cllr Clark said,
“I urge people to respond to the consultation. I live in Atherstone and I want to know that if my home is on fire the required two fire engines will be available quickly. Opposition to these cuts in the fire service is a clear difference between myself and the Conservatives who run the County Council.”
The Government has cut grants to fund local services and so the council has decided that the Fire and Rescue Service must deliver cuts of around £2.4 million by March 2018 with £1.3 million in the first two years.
Savings of this magnitude will inevitably affect the delivery of frontline service including the response to emergency incidents and community fire safety. This is confirmed in the councils Integrated Risk Management Plan 2013-17. The council is therefore required to have a public consultation exercise under s.3 Local Government Act 1999. The public is being invited through invited forums and road shows to directly discuss the changes to policy and location of firefighters and fire engines. So far the amount of publicity about these consultation events has been limited.
Currently the Atherstone has a full time fire appliances and a part time appliance. It will lose the full time one. Fire regulations require that two appliances shall attend a single house fire.
The council is also proposing to reduce the number of firefighters on an appliance. At the moment two fire appliances would normally have a total of ten firefighters. This will be reduced to nine.
If there are two suspected house fires in an area at the same time then four fire appliances will be needed. At present Atherstone would be supplied with additional fire appliances from Nuneaton, but Nuneaton will also faces reductions in services. The concern is that there will not be four appliances readily available.
The south of the county is predominantly rural and in order to reduce the time it takes an appliance to get the houses there the places where some appliances are located will be changed. This means a move of appliances from the North Warwickshire and Nuneaton area to Rugby and the south.