The proposals will see the Fire Authority save £1.5m from an annual budget of £30m. The Authority says that they can provide the right cover, with less resources, both people and equipment, due to the volume of calls that they now receive going down significantly.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) have voiced concern that the changes will endanger life and not provide adequate cover for the county.
There are six fire stations being targeted for cutbacks:-
- At Harrogate the proposal is to replace a whole-time shifted crew fire engine with a tactical response vehicle, with a smaller shifted crew.
In Ripon the proposals are to change a whole-time day crewed engine and an on-call retained crew. A retained crew attend the Station when needed.
The proposals would see the loss of the whole-time day crew with either
- a mixed crew fire engine (day crew and retained) or
- day crewed tactical response vehicle (TRV)
Simon Wall is the Brigade Chair for the Fire Brigades Union in North Yorkshire.
Simon Wall said:
We appreciate the need for a review and change, but this must not be at the expense of fire fighters or public safety.
We also appreciate that call volumes have reduced, but some of that reduction is down to the preventative work we undertake.
There are also plans to increase the contribution the Fire Service receives from Council Tax to the maximum that it can,without triggering a referendum.
Currently based at the Harrogate Fire station are two pumps, an aerial ladder platform and a High Volume Pump (HVP) and with fire-fighters at the station around the clock.
A watch duty typically has a crew of 8 or 9, who typically take 2 pumps or 1 (or 2) pumps plus the aerial ladder platform. The plans would see a single fire pump being replaced by a Tactical Response Vehcile (TRV). A TRV is a much smaller unit, crewed with 2 fire-fighters.
There are no plans to cut back on the Fire Service specialist services, such as High Volume Pump, Heavy Rescue Unit or Hazardous Material Response (Hazmat)
Simon Wall said:
Downgrading of fire engines is not the way forward. A TRV can only attend a very limited number of incidents, they only carry a two man crew and can’t use breathing apparatus.
Having two fire-fighters attend an incident gives us great concerns with moral pressures and they may have to put themselves under risk or that they may endanger the public further.
In other areas such as Cleveland and West Yorkshire they are now looking at phasing out their use of TRV’s as they haven’t worked for them, yet North Yorkshire are looking to introduce.
The FBU estimate that Harrogate would see the loss of 14 staff. Along with the cost savings associated with running one less fire engine, the savings could be £500K from the Harrogate Station alone.
The Fire Authority have said that there will no forced redundancies with these proposals. There has been a freeze on recruitment since 2009.
The Fire Service works in a tactical way. For large incidents units are moved to alternate Fire Stations to provide cover, that can include working with West Yorkshire who, for instance, provided additional support for the Prezzo restaurant fire in 2014.
Looking at a recent response to a fridge fire at Harrogate Hospital. Harrogate Fire station mobilised two appliances and the aerial ladder platform with further appliances being mobilised from Knaresborough and Boroughbridge. Although this was a fire that was out on arrival, they responded on the possibility of what the incident could have been. With these changes, the response would likely have seen a single fire engine and aerial ladder platform from Harrogate along with additional appliances from Knaresborough and Boroughbridge.
Simon Wall said:
We would urge the public to engage.
To look at the changes being proposed and respond to the consultation.
The FBU believe that there are other solutions that need to be looked at before we go down the route of these cut backs.
To read the consultation document:
Response to the consultation can be emailed firstname.lastname@example.org
Consultations are also taking place where members of the public can talk to the fire service.
- Monday 27th July 3pm-7pm Harrogate School Hall, Harrogate High School, Ainsty Road, Harrogate, HG1 4AP
- Thursday 30th July 3pm-7pm Tadcaster Ballroom, Riley Smith Hall, 28 Westgate, Tadcaster, LS24 9JB
- Monday 3rd August 3pm-7pm Northallerton Lower Hall Northallerton Town Hall, High Street, Northallerton, DL7 8QR
- Wednesday 5th August 3pm-7pm Scarborough Small room, Scarborough Library, Vernon Road, Scarborough, YO11 2NN
- Tuesday 1st September 3pm-7pm Malton The Milton Rooms, Market Place, Malton, YO17 7LX
- Thursday 3rd September 3pm-7pm Northallerton Upper Hall, Northallerton Town Hall, High Street, Northallerton, DL7 8QR
- Wednesday 9th September 3pm-7pm Ripon Arts Hall, Ripon Leisure Centre, Dallamires Lane, Ripon HG4 1TT
- Tuesday 15th September 3pm-7pm Harrogate Harrogate Baptist Church, Victoria Avenue, Harro