The Fire Brigades’ Union has issued a rallying cry urging the Bradford public to speak out on wide-ranging cuts planned, amid fears firefighters’ lives could be under increased threat.

The FBU fears people do not realise how exposed the district will be if wide-ranging rationalisation – including closing Idle and Shipley stations and merging them into a new station, possibly on Canal Road – go ahead.

Under the changes, response times to get to incidents in Idle and Thackley would increase by an estimated three minutes and 34 seconds, in the Worth Valley by three minutes and 47 seconds and for Shipley three minutes and 17 seconds.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority has undertaken a 12-week consultation on the changes to save £8 million, which include the loss of 200 firefighter jobs and station closures.

There are fears that closing Haworth and reducing pumps at Keighley and Fairweather Green would leave the whole district compromised if there was a big fire requiring more than four pumps.

Dave Williams, West Yorkshire FBU secretary, said: “Response times could nearly double. I am urging people to speak to their local councillors and MPs and demand that public meetings are held in Shipley and Idle where fire cover will be hit the most. It is not just members of the public who are at risk with these cuts – firefighters’ lives would be put at greater risk as well.

“We are demanding the West Yorkshire Fire Brigade and the Authority hold public meetings in public places.”

The Authority has already applied for Government cash for a building programme.

A spokesman for the Authority said: “The application for capital funds has some that relates to the draft proposals, but none are site-specific. One of the main drivers for some of these changes is lack of money. Nevertheless, capital funds are available to release and it makes sense to apply if the Government is willing to earmark funds.

“No public meetings are organised by the authority because we decided last year that we would not predetermine public meetings,” the spokesman said, but he added that it was in talks with local community groups.