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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

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Furness firefighters 'stretched to limit' after cuts

A SPATE of fire incidents across Furness left local firefighters stretched to capacity and some towns and villages with no local engine available to attend emergencies.

‘stretched service’ Fire Brigades Union representative Tony Callister has spoken out over the impact of cuts to the fire service

Firefighter and union representative, Tony Callister says these are exactly the sort of problems the union warned about when services were slashed.

In June, Dalton fire station was shut and a full-time engine moved from Barrow to Ulverston in a controversial move. There were promises that there was enough fire cover for the area and response times would remain good.

Mr Callister was one of many campaigners who expressed concerns that lives could be put at risk.

On Friday, the Evening Mail revealed how an 80-year-old pensioner was rescued from a kitchen fire in her home in Queen’s Terrace, Dalton, on Sunday after firefighters from Ulverston took more than 20 minutes to turn up.

The great-grandmother’s neighbours, Keith Dacre and his son Glen, 18, managed to extinguish the chip pan blaze and get the woman to safety.

On Thursday, Barrow and Ulverston’s crews were called to a garage blaze on Walney at about 1.30pm as the island’s part-time crew were not available.

There was then a fire in Dalton at 4.12pm which was attended by the Ulverston retained crew. They needed two extra engines and it took 30 minutes for one from Broughton to arrive.

A retrained crew had to be brought in from Coniston to cover Barrow while local crews dealt with the incidents.

Mr Callister said: “This just shows how stretched we actually are. If the Dalton engine had still been there it would have been on the scene a lot quicker.

“Thank God that no one was hurt or injured but it was certainly a testing time. If something had happened in the Broughton or Coniston areas who would have been able to deal with it?”

A Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “The changes on the Furness peninsula were introduced as part of a county-wide process to reflect the dangers that exist and ensure the right personnel and equipment are in the right place at the right time.

“Since the changes were introduced earlier this year, Furness has four fire engines across three fire stations for the area’s 38,500 properties. This compares favourably with other areas of the county.”

Have your say

It's a disgrace what Cumbria Fire & Rescue have done to the fire cover in South Cumbria. After serving 34 years as a whole time fire fighter in GMC (10 of those years as a Crew & Watch Manager) the changes I have recently witnessed make me shudder. What about crew safety. 4 staff on 1 pump at Barrow what if they need urgent assistance ? Who, the ECO ? Has any one actually done a risk assessment of the fire cover ... It does,nt look like it to me .....scary....come on Politicians get your act together before a Fire fighter or members of the public pay with their lives for your incompetence

Posted by Jack Grady on 13 August 2014 at 20:46

My ex colleagues and myself were made redundant for the Fire Service to advertise 10 new recruits @ £60000 for Barrow. Major kick in the teeth. We stood dignified to the very end and now they got rid of us for a saving of probably £60000 they now recruit again with similar cost plus training. We all have seen this coming for over 12 months and tried to fight it but to no avail. We only wish our County councillors were behind us . It's not nice to see the recent fires in our town and absolutely nothing we can do. The crews available are 100% committed and you must feel for them at the pressure they get from the public at turning up 20 mins plus. This has been a quick fix to show savings then waste money again. Now Dalton retained has gone and probably would be many years before a team could be put back together even if decided on. Let's hope the whole time crew returns back to Barrow and re man Ulverston . And management remember the retained are the back bone of cumbria Fire and give them the RESPECT they deserve. Good luck

Posted by Ex FF Mendez (Dalton) on 10 August 2014 at 22:44

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