Further concerns over proposed cuts to Harrogate’s night-time fire crews

Concerns are growing over the future of fire services in Harrogate as the area’s commissioner prepares to face the public over plans to cut the number of night-time fire engines to just one.

By Jacob Webster
Monday, 13th June 2022, 5:08 pm
Harrogate Fire Station currently has two fire engines operating 24 hours a day, but at night this could be reduced to just one.
Harrogate Fire Station currently has two fire engines operating 24 hours a day, but at night this could be reduced to just one.

North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Zoë Metcalfe will meet with residents this Thursday to discuss the move which she said would “continue to provide an immediate emergency response” during the night when demand is lower.

The proposals from the county’s Chief Fire Officer are currently out to consultation and have already been criticised as “putting money before lives”.

And now further concerns have been raised by the North Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union, as well as Harrogate councillors.

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Union secretary Steve Howley has urged the public to reject the proposals which he described as “seriously concerning”.

He said: “The police, fire and crime commissioner needs to fight for the correct funding from government, not simply mask underfunding by slashing services and providing the public of North Yorkshire with a second-rate emergency response service that will put lives at risk.”

Commissioner Metcalfe will be on Harrogate’s Prospect Crescent between 10am and 4pm on Thursday to discuss the plans which are included in the fire service’s new Risk and Resource Model.

The document sets out how the fire service will deploy staff and equipment across North Yorkshire over the next three years.

Commissioner Metcalfe said the plans – which also include cuts to services in York and Scarborough – would save over £1.5 million a year which would allow for investment in fire prevention.

But at a North Yorkshire County Council meeting last week, Harrogate councillors raised concerns that having just one night-time fire engine will lead to longer response times and put public safety at risk.

Councillor Robert Windass, who is a former firefighter, said: “Night time is when most people die in house fires.

“I would like to see two four-men crew 24 hours per day, but I know the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is short of money.

“It has been for a number of years and it is only central government that is going to be able to give it the sufficient funds to run what I would call a proper and correct fire service.”

Councillor Monika Slater added: “I live very close to the fire station and on the road across from us there was a house fire during the night earlier this year.

“Unfortunately, despite that proximity, the occupant passed away.

“The thought of having to wait for other units or on-call firefighters to come is just inconceivable.”

The proposals are out to consultation until 14 August and commissioner Metcalfe will be on Prospect Close to speak with residents also on 19 July.

She said in a statement: “It’s my job to set the direction of North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue service and therefore consider the proposals and make a decision.

“Before I do that, I want to know what the public think and I encourage people to come along to one of my roadshow consultation events this summer to speak with myself or a member of my team, and to complete the online questionnaire.”

To have your say on the proposals go to www.TellCommissionerZoe.co.uk

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter