Public safety fears over West Yorkshire fire cuts plan

A fire engine leaving a fire station The fire service said it was facing cuts up to 2020

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Plans to cut 200 firefighter posts in West Yorkshire could have "serious consequences" for public safety, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has said.

The county's fire and rescue service has put forward the recommendation, along with plans to close and merge stations, in an attempt to save £8m.

The fire authority will decide on the proposals at a meeting on 7 September.

John Durkin, from the FBU, said it would be urging the public to encourage councillors to vote against plans.

Start Quote

Doing nothing is not an option”

End Quote Chief fire officer Simon Pilling

Along with cutting full-time firefighter posts, other recommendations include closing Haworth fire station in Bradford and merging Shipley and Idle fire stations to a new site.

In Leeds, Hunslet and Morley fire stations would be merged, as would Rothwell and Garforth and Cookridge and Moortown.

It has also been proposed to close Marsden fire station in Kirklees and remove an engine from Halifax.

In Wakefield, a new fire station for Ossett would be built nearer to Wakefield city centre, with an engine removed from the Wakefield station.

Chief fire officer Simon Pilling said the county's fire authority was likely to face budget cuts up to 2020 and had to make long-term provision to reshape fire cover.

Mr Pilling said plans were already in place to find cuts of between £8m and £12m over the next two years.

He said: "Doing nothing is not an option as my inability to recruit would eventually leave fire stations as glorified garages with unstaffed vehicles and equipment."

Mr Durkin, West Yorkshire brigade chairman of the FBU, said: "The FBU nationally and locally is opposed to any cuts in the fire service.

"At a local level, this could have serious consequences for public safety and firefighter safety. Our resources will be spread very thin and far."

Mr Durkin said a public campaign would be started to urge people to contact their councillors, and a series of public meetings would be held.

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