Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce has launched an online petition in a bid to save one of the city’s fire engines.
Plans to cut Lancaster’s fire cover in half have already been through a consultation stage, but the proposed implementation is still three years away.
And the Chamber has been contacted by the Fire Brigade Union and serving firefighters who have advised that certain issues have not been fully taken into account.
* Lancaster has the largest station area in the county and covers as support or second attendance, into Morecambe, Bolton-le-Sands, Carnforth, Caton, Halton, Glasson Dock, Quernmore and the Trough of Bowland. Within this station area Lancaster also covers a wide range of incidents right up to the Morecambe Bay Coast up to Silverdale, including sand and river specialist rescue.
* It covers a large and busy stretch of M6 (28 miles), which is soon to be extended with the Heysham M6 Link Road.
* The population of Lancaster is set to swell considerably in the next 10 years, with 600 houses a year planned to be built.
* Part of the minimum required emergency attendance to Heysham Power Station includes two appliances from Lancaster, along with all the necessary planning and training in response to incidents there.
* Most importantly, it requires a minimum of nine fire fighters to effectively and safely tackle all life critical emergencies, in particular building fires and road traffic collisions. A retained unit will have a minimum turnout time from their station of five minutes. That is five minutes longer that members of the public will have to wait trapped in a building or vehicle whilst the sufficient number of fire fighters are available at the incident.
The Chamber has had support from a number of local businesses including Aaron Crewe, director of SEO 24/7 based at the InfoLab, Lancaster University, who said: “The fire service provides a vital and crucial provision to the local area.
“Fire crews often have to contend with unknown events each day. If the number of fire appliances in the area is reduced, then in the unfortunate event that there are two or more incidents in different locations resources would be stretched, putting lives at risk.
“The range of incidents that fire fighters have to contend with is vastly diverse and it is vital that there are the appliances in place to ensure that all situations are dealt with effectively and efficiently.
“Although the retained fire fighters in the local area also provide a fantastic service it is the distance between the locations of each appliance that raises concern.
“Although statistics show that in some cases accidents have reduced, it is not statistics that we should rely on alone but we need to factor in the risk to the local area and its residents if an appliance is to be removed.
“There is simply too many potential risks and the safety of the local residents needs to be given a higher priority than the benefits of cost saving.
“As a chamber we support all of our local businesses and it is vital that we rally to try and prevent the fire appliance from being removed.”
If you support the campaign to save the fire appliance in Lancaster you can sign the online petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/59279.