North Yorkshire Fire face proposed cuts to service

Firefighters battle the blaze on Albert Street. Picture : Adrian Murray. (1403181AM14)

Firefighters battle the blaze on Albert Street. Picture : Adrian Murray. (1403181AM14)

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The Brigade Chair of North Yorkshire’s Fire Brigade Union has stressed he ‘cannot accept’ the latest round of cuts imposed on the service.

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue services announced a series of proposals in their extended Fire Cover Review which was released on Monday, January 12.

Proposals include cutting the number of fire engines available to respond to incidents within five minutes from 46 to 27, as well as replacing some engines with ‘tactical response vehicles’.

Other proposals include the introduction of 12 hour shifts for firefighters and the introduction of fire engines with a mix of whole time firefighters and retained part-timers (RDS).

The proposals come after a report from Sir Ken Knight analysing the efficiency of fire authorities in England, which concluded there was now a reduced demand and risk for front line services.

However, Brigade Chair Simon Wall, said this needed to be balanced with additional skills, training and resources and that the proposals left him ‘hugely concerned’ for the public’s safety’.

He said: “I don’t think the service has ever been in such a worrying position that they are in now.

“The RDS is a problem for us because it’s a huge commitment and there is a lot of pressure that they are put under.

“The volunteers are used to backup a service, it’s not there to be a substitute and I feel it’s an insult to our current staff because the commitment and support they give incidents is unquestionable.”

Mr Wall expressed concern about the use of tactical response vehicles to respond to incidents as, if they arrived at the scene before the fire engine ‘there wouldn’t be a lot they could do’.

He said: “It’s been noted they would only go to certain incidents but if they get there before a fire engine then they might have a moral obligation to do something more.”

The service is also set to save more than £2m in wages by June 2019 with 37 members of staff due to retire, with Mr Wall confirming that there are no current plans for recruitment and they have had no reassurances there would not be redundancies.

“We have not had a review since the 1990s but it’s the fact the front line that’s being hit hardest which is worrying,” Mr Wall said.