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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Barrow fire cuts bring risk of ‘dangerous delays’

THE leader of Cumbria’s fire union is calling for a re-think over plans to cut the number of fire engines based in Barrow to just one.

The proposals, put forward in a consultation document by Cumbria County Council, could leave Barrow, and its population of more than 70,000, with a single full-time crew.

It would mean any emergencies requiring more than one engine may require the vehicle to travel from Ulverston – nine miles away.

The plan has been slammed by Dave Burn, chairman of the Cumbria Fire Brigades Union, who has branded the move as “dangerous”.

He said: “Cutting the number of fire engines and the personnel available to crew any engines will result in dangerous delays in our response to emergencies.

“Barrow crews will have to wait for back-up crews to arrive from Ulverston or Walney instead of having that support available from the same station.”

The consultation comes as part of an attempt by the council to make savings of £24m.

Under plans open to public consultation, the number of full-time fire fighters on duty in Barrow could be reduced to four. In 2005, there were 16.

There are two engines based in Barrow but if the cost-cutting measures go ahead then one would move to Ulverston. An integrated risk management planning document said it would “reflect risk patterns”.

However a local firefighter, who did not want to be named, said the cuts would endanger their safety as well as the public’s.

He said: “If we get an incident, even if it is a simple house fire, one engine just means that we are almost incapable of doing anything with that number of personnel.

“There are strict guidelines to enter a property. I fear a lot of the time we will be stuck on the pavement squirting water at [the fire], waiting for the second engine to arrive so we can actually enter the building.”

Further proposals in the consultation include closing Dalton fire station and removing one of the two fire engines based in Kendal, Workington, Whitehaven, Maryport and Penrith.

A Cumbria Fire and Rescue spokesman said the crew in Barrow would be on shift 24/7.

He said: “While a full-time fire engine would be removed from Barrow it would be relocated to Ulverston, thereby giving a wider full-time firefighting footprint across the area and of course Barrow’s fire engine would arrive at incidents in the same time as it does now.

“Where second pumps were removed from four fire stations in 2008 it did not affect the service’s ability to respond to incidents effectively and the number of fires in those locations continued to fall.”

Have your say

Disgusting. What exactly are the councillors thinking? We all know it's to save money but this will lead to the loss of lives, not only through fires to vehicle accidents. I just can't put into words my disappointment and disbelief!

Posted by Fiona Hanson on 28 October 2013 at 08:09

All these cutbacks which are proposed by Cumbria County Council that are heaped onto the fire service sets out a very, very dangerous precedent indeed.
Could Cumbria County Council (CCC) just picture the case scenario where there is a major industrial incident involving chemicals & only one fire appliance in attendance?
Has CCC any idea the loss of life that these cutback policies could & will cause?
The fire service obviously is an important public service & it should be kept going & funded what ever the cost & if CCC want to save £24 million they should not be attacking the general public, yes, that is what this policy is!
Instead they (the CCC) should turn their attention to the energy companies who make £billions each year as does the royal house hold who also rake in £billions
Fire fighters are a part of the working class & there fore should bear the brunt of this financial crisis. NEVER!!!!
People will die!!!!!!
Think about it!!!!

Posted by Charlie on 26 October 2013 at 19:24

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