Fire shakeup could cost lives

Halifax Courier - - The Week In Court - By Aban Quaynor

Hal­i­fax Fire Sta­tion is set to lose 16 fire­fight­ers, four watch man­agers and one fire en­gine in a move that an MP has said could put lives at risk. The shakeup will see 20 mem­bers of staff trans­ferred to other sta­tions in the district, but West York­shire Fire Ser­vice is yet to no­tify crews who will be moved and where they will be posted.

Hal­i­fax Sta­tion is also set to lose one of its fire en­gines on Mon­day, mean­ing it will be left with a Com­bined Aerial Res­cue Pump (CARP) - which be­cause of their size can strug­gle get­ting down nar­row roads - and a re­silience pump.

How­ever, with new shift pat­terns - four watches with six crew mem­bers - only one ve­hi­cle can be dis­patched at a time.

With crews re­ly­ing on lo­cal knowl­edge to de­cide which ap­pli­ance to dis­patch there is the po­ten­tial for in­creased re­sponse times.

This could there­fore put lives at risk and Hal­i­fax MP Linda Rior­dan has called for the au­thor­ity to re­con­sider its de­ci­sion.

“Th­ese cut­backs are wrong, could put lives at risk and will make the ser­vice worse not bet­ter,” she said. “I think the fire au­thor­ity should think again, be­fore they go down a road of cost cut­ting in such an im­por­tant public ser­vice.”

The cuts were first pro­posed in De­cem­ber 2012, went through a com­pre­hen­sive con­sul­ta­tion process and have now been ap­proved by the au­throity.

As­sis­tant Chief Fire Of­fi­cer Dave Wal­ton said: “We would like to re­as­sure the public that th­ese changes have been thor­oughly risk as­sessed and ad­e­quate fire cover will re­main in place. We will work closely with the per­son­nel at Hal­i­fax to en­sure that we cause the min­i­mum dis­rup­tion pos­si­ble at this time of change.”

Mr Wal­ton said the Calderdale district will re­ceive ad­di­tional re­sources to un­der­take fur­ther risk re­duc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties in the higher risk ar­eas of Hal­i­fax.

DAVE WAL­TON

LINDA RIOR­DAN

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