Eight Kent fire stations to close after plans approved
Plans to close eight fire stations across Kent have been approved.
The Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority said the changes are needed following a 25% drop in the number of fires and other incidents since 2005.
However, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said the closures would increase response times and could risk a rise in fatalities.
The stations to close are Halling, St Margaret's, Horton Kirby, Queenborough, Seal, Rusthall, Sturry and Matfield.
Kent FBU secretary Mark Simmons said: "There's national research that shows any increase in attendance times or response times leads to an increase in fatality rates.
"Put quite simply the longer it takes for us to arrive, the greater the risk of fatalities and serious casualties."'Emergency cover'
The authority said the closures would hit stations that are used infrequently.
Chairman of the authority Bryan Cope said the plans were approved at a meeting earlier.
"The safety of the public and our firefighters is always our top priority," he said.
"However, all of the evidence shows that we have eight more fire engines than we need, even to deal with a major emergency.
"Several stations - some established in Victorian times - are now in the wrong location, while in other areas we need more emergency cover."