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West Yorkshire Fire Service chief says fall in ‘accidental fire deaths’ means cuts are ‘proportionate’
7:00am Friday 31st August 2012 in News
Up to 200 firefighters could lose their jobs as details of a radical shake-up in emergency fire cover have been revealed.
West Yorkshire Chief Fire Officer Simon Pilling announced the plan which he said could save £8 million from the service’s budget.
Mr Pilling insisted his plan, which will be considered by the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority next Friday, before possibly going out to public consultation, has to happen in the face of expected budget cuts until 2020.
“Accidental fire deaths and injuries are at an all-time low and some stations are now half as busy as they were a few years ago so we can rationalise and modernise while still providing effective fire cover,” he said.
“We know we have to find cuts of between and £8-12m over the next two years – and already have plans in place – but all the messages coming out of central Government project further reductions.
“Doing nothing is not an option as my inability to recruit would eventually leave fire stations as glorified garages with unstaffed vehicles.”
Mr Pilling says his plans, which would be implemented by 2020 if approved, would only save millions of pounds if the 200 jobs were cut.
As exclusively revealed by the Telegraph & Argus earlier this month (above), other proposals in his scheme include replacing one of two fire engines at Fairweather Green with a fire response unit – a smaller engine used for less serious incidents.
Haworth ’s retained fire station would be closed, while nearby Keighley station would lose one of two engines. Idle and Shipley stations would merge, with a new station built somewhere between the two, while Odsal would see one of two engines replaced.
A report to next week’s meeting authority says Mr Pilling’s proposals are “supported by comprehensive research and are proportionate to risk”.
Last night, no-one at the Yorkshire branch of the Fire Brigade Union was available for comment.