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Fire crews battle to save their jobs

Lancaster Fire Station.

Lancaster Fire Station.

Firefighters in Lancaster are going door-to-door in a bid to save their jobs – and save lives.

Government cuts mean city fire crews have been told that they are to lose one of

Lancaster’s two full-time fire engines from 2016.

Instead, the appliance will be replaced by an engine crewed by volunteer ‘on call’ firefighters.

Firefighters union chiefs say this will result in five minute delays which could prove crucial.

And they say two engines are needed to deal with most house fires, especially if

people are trapped.

They are now urging the public to help fight their cause, and have been

campaigning and leafleting around the district.

There will also be a trades union rally supporting the firefighters in Dalton Square from 11am on Saturday, May 3.

Lancaster firefighter and Fire Brigades Union (FBU) branch rep Craig White said: “All the firefighters at

Lancaster are very concerned about losing the fire engine.

“It will leave only two whole-time pumps in the north of the county and we will have to rely on the

retained crew to turn out which can lead to delays and consequently put the public’s lives at risk and firefighters’ lives at risk.

“Lancaster firefighters cover a very wide area and there’s a very good possibility

that there could be more

rtjhfatalities as a result of this.”

Steve Harman, FBU brigade secretary, said: “It normally requires a minimum of two fire engines and crews to have the best chance of successfully dealing with a domestic house fire, particularly when people are trapped.

“This proposal will result in a slower response to the property at a time when every second counts.

“This is because the new fire crew will have to respond from their homes instead of responding immediately from the station.”

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 28 mile stretch of M6, which is soon to be extended with the Heysham M6 Link Road.

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.

And 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.

Firefighters are asking local residents to support their campaign by contacting their local MP.

Mr Harman said: “It is important that MPs are aware of the strength of feeling, and support the campaign by actively lobbying the government to demand that the decision to cut this vital funding is reversed.

“Do not to accept a worsened fire service with a slower response standard in the Lancaster and Morecambe area.”

The firefighters have also set up an online petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/59279.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue northern area manager Michael Barke said: “Through effective prevention work, fires are continuing to fall and the numbers of people killed and injured in fires are at all-time lows.”

“The second fire engine at Lancaster is one of the least active whole-time fire engines in the county.

“The replacement retained fire unit will use the same fire engine and the retained firefighters will be just as qualified as the firefighters that are currently working at the fire station.

“The reductions made during the Emergency Cover Review enable us to identify opportunities for change that will generate the most savings with the least impact on our ability to give an effective emergency response service to the whole of Lancashire.”

Lancaster MP Eric Ollerenshaw said: “I sympathise with our firefighters on the potential dangers of losing the second ‘whole-time’ engine at Lancaster.

“I have made my opposition to this known in the Fire Authority’s consultation and have also raised my concerns with the chief fire officer.”

 

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