Changes to West Yorkshire Fire Service to save £4m a year

Fire ServicePlans for far-reaching reform of the county?s fire and rescue service were given the green light by councillors today.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority agreed to the replacement of 10 fire stations and other changes designed to save £4m. a year.



The authority is facing the possible loss of £18m in central government grants between now and 2016.

The plans, which may take four years to fully realise, will see new stations in:

• Killingbeck, to replace Gipton and Stanks

• Menston, to replace Rawdon and Otley

• Rastrick, to replace Brighouse and Elland



• South Kirkby, to replace Hemsworth and South Elmsall

• Batley/Dewsbury, to replace Batley and Dewsbury

A smaller fire response unit (FRU) will replace the second fire engine at Moortown and the second engine at Silsden will become a back-up appliance based at Keighley.

All the new stations will have additional, back-up engines which will be crewed during peak demand.

There will be over 100 full-time firefighter posts removed from the establishment, but all through planned retirements.

Chief Fire Officer Simon Pilling said he fully understood the concerns of people who had objected to the proposals during public consultation but remained convinced that the plans were operationally sound and in the best long-term interests of the brigade.

Of course we could have sat back, grumbled about our grant allocation, and done nothing but the reality is that we haven?t had the cash to recruit since 2009 and are fast approaching the point where we will not be able to crew the full fleet. Many of our fire stations would then become glorified garages, unable to turn out an appliance.

My proposals will spread us a little more thinly but still enable us to deliver a first-class emergency service across the whole of West Yorkshire.

The chief?s proposals attracted support from Calderdale Council, individual councillors and West Yorkshire Police but 2,973 letters of objection or concern were received over a 13-week consultation period. Fewer firefighters and longer response times were top of objectors? agenda.

No one is more disappointed than me that we are having to make such fundamental changes, so fast, but no credible alternative has been put forward,” said Mr. Pilling. “I have done everything in my power to try and find a solution which meets community risk, protects firefighter safety and avoids the need for the compulsory redundancy of full-time firefighters.

 

Councillor David Ridgway, who chairs the fire authority, said his colleagues agreed the plans “with a heavy heart.”

Councillor David Ridgway added:

The fight with Whitehall for fairer funding goes on — and we embrace the support for that campaign from the Fire Brigades Union – but the authority can?t shake off its responsibilities by simply blaming others. The bottom line is that, whatever the circumstances, we have a duty to provide and maintain the best fire and rescue service that resources will permit. It is some comfort that a great many consultees, though palpably hostile to change, recognised our dilemma.

However, Councillor Ridgway emphasised that important as the changes were they would merely bridge a proportion of the projected four-year funding gap and that the search for further savings would continue with a fundamental management restructure beginning in the New Year.

 

The Full details of the proposals

 

KILLINGBECK

The construction of a new fire station to replace Gipton and Stanks fire stations and the removal of 24 full-time posts from the establishment by way of planned retirements.

KEY POINTS:

• Gipton is classed as a very high risk area and Stanks as a medium risk area.

• Stanks Fire Station is poorly located at the outer edge of the local community and access/egress from the site is problematic.

• In the five-year period between 2004/5 and 2009/10 operational demand in these areas reduced by 28 per cent (there has been a reduction of 61 per cent in serious fires).

• The brigade has piloted a new type of vehicle (Fire Response Unit) to deal with smaller fires and incidents to free up fire appliances to respond to more serious emergencies. The pilot has been successful and it is believed that a district-based Fire Response Unit would handle in the region of 3,000 calls per year.

• The new fire station would have lower running costs.

• The two Killingbeck fire appliances would be supplemented by a back-up engine for use during spate conditions.

Targeted community safety and risk reduction work would continue.

 

MENSTON

The construction of a new fire station to replace Rawdon Fire Station with the removal of 11 full-time posts from the establishment by way of planned retirements and the closure of Otley Fire Station with the removal of 12 retained duty system posts.

KEY POINTS:

• Otley and Rawdon are both classed as very low risk areas.

• In the five-year period between 2004/5 and 2009/10 operational demand in these areas reduced by 19 per cent (there has been a reduction of 44 per cent in serious fires).

• The Otley fire appliance was unavailable for fire calls for nine per cent of the time during 2009/10.

• The location and full-time staffing at Menston would deliver a large increase in community safety activities such as home fire safety checks.

• The new station would deliver significant improvements to fire appliance response times into Otley and Burley-in-Wharfedale and maintain appropriate response times into Rawdon.

• The station would be staffed on the day crewing (close call) system i.e. full-time firefighters who are on-call from nearby accommodation at night.

 

RASTRICK

The construction of a new fire station to replace Brighouse and Elland fire stations and the removal of 24 full-time posts from the establishment by way of planned retirements.

KEY POINTS:

• Elland and Brighouse are both classed as low risk areas (if not for attending incidents on the M62 both would be very low risk).

• In the five-year period between 2004/5 and 2009/10 operational demand in these areas reduced by four per cent (there has been a reduction of 27 per cent in serious fires).

• Elland Fire Station is in need of significant capital investment.

• Rastrick would provide a quick response into Brighouse, Elland and the higher risk area of north Huddersfield.

• The new fire station would retain the area?s swift water rescue and flood response capability. Targeted community safety and risk reduction work would continue.

 

SOUTH KIRKBY

The construction of a new fire station to replace South Elmsall Fire Station with the removal of 11 full- time posts from the establishment by way of planned retirements and the closure of Hemsworth Fire Station with the removal of 12 retained duty system posts.

KEY POINTS:

• Hemsworth and South Elmsall are both classed as very low risk areas.

• In the five-year period between 2004/5 and 2009/10 operational demand in these areas reduced by 36 per cent (there has been a reduction of 43 per cent in serious fires).

• The Hemsworth fire appliance was unavailable for fire calls for 16 per cent of the time during 2009/10.

• Four miles separate Hemsworth and South Elmsall.

• The new fire station at South Kirkby would improve performance of fire appliance attendance times for Hemsworth against the risk-based planning assumptions by 16 per cent.

• A fire station at South Kirkby enables a large increase in community safety activities such as home fire safety checks in Hemsworth and surrounding areas.

• The proposed fire station would be staffed on the day crewed (close call) duty system using full-time firefighters who are on-call from nearby accommodation at night.

 

BATLEY/DEWSBURY

The construction of a new fire station to replace Batley and Dewsbury fire stations and removal of 24 full-time posts from the establishment by way of planned retirements.

KEY POINTS

• Dewsbury is a high risk area and Batley is a medium risk area.

• There is currently considerable duplication of fire cover delivered by the three fire stations and four fire appliances at Dewsbury, Batley and Mirfield.

• In the five-year period between 2004/5 and 2009/10 operational demand in these areas reduced by 17 per cent (there has been a reduction of 34 per cent in serious fires).

• Two fire appliances at the new fire station would be supplemented by a back-up engine for spate conditions.

Targeted community safety and risk reduction work would continue.

 

MOORTOWN

The introduction of a Fire Response Unit (FRU) and back-up engine at Moortown to replace the second fire appliance and the removal of up to 12 full-time posts by way of planned retirements.

KEY POINTS:

• Moortown is classed as a high risk area.

• In the five-year period between 2004/5 and 2009/10 operational demand in this area has reduced by 35 per cent (there has been a reduction of 47 per cent in serious fires).

• The brigade has piloted a new type of vehicle (Fire Response Unit) to deal with smaller fires and incidents to free up fire appliances to respond to more serious emergencies. The pilot has been successful and it is believed that a district-based Fire Response Unit would handle in the region of 3,000 calls per year.

• A back-up engine would still be located at Moortown Fire Station for use during spate conditions.

• The revised level of resources at Moortown would bring it in line with other fire stations with similar characteristics.

 

SILSDEN

Remove the second fire appliance at Silsden and transfer it to Keighley as a back-up engine and the removal of five retained duty system posts from the establishment at Silsden.

KEY POINTS:

• Silsden is the only retained station in West Yorkshire with two fire appliances.

• The Silsden area is classed as very low risk.

• In the five-year period between 2004/5 and 2009/10 operational demand in this area has reduced by 43 per cent (there has been a reduction of 63 per cent in serious fires).

• The second fire appliance at Silsden was unavailable for fire calls for 31 per cent of the time during 2009/10.

Targeted community safety and risk reduction work would continue.

 

 

 


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