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FIRE SERVICE CUTS: Who will ride to the rescue of cash-hit fire service?

The blaze at the student accommodation in St Leonardgate on Wednesday morning.

The blaze at the student accommodation in St Leonardgate on Wednesday morning.

Lancaster Fire Station covers the second largest area in the county – an area which spreads from Glasson Dock to Quernmore and Bay Horse and the Trough of Bowland.

It also acts as the second fire engine into Morecambe.

Fire crews are called into action for a wide variety of incidents – from river and sea rescues to road accidents as well as the more expected fires.

Between June 1 and July 1, Lancaster’s firefighters responded to the following emergency calls:

* 5 building/property fires

* 9 rubbish fires

* 7 special service calls (road accidents, flooding and other rescues)

* 19 false alarms

These included the massive blaze at Megazone in Morecambe, the fire at student flats in St Leonardgate, Lancaster, on Wednesday morning and a rescue from the sands at Arnside on Monday evening.

Neil Parkinson, Lancaster Fire Brigades Union (FBU) branch rep, said: “The fire service has evolved – we don’t just go to fires and car accidents any more, we go to things like water incidents and people trapped at height.

“More and more we are doing things like fire safety, going into homes and schools.

“And if there’s a fire at Heysham Power Station, both Lancaster engines are on the immediate ‘pre-determined attendance’ of four engines.

“People might not hear a lot about serious fires because we usually get there in good time, but with delays it could be far more serious.

“Lancaster has the second highest number of casualties in road accidents in the county – it’s really shortsighted from the government to make these cuts.

“We are exploring every avenue to make the government listen, and it’s not just us – this is happening up and down the whole country.

“The only way this decision will be reversed is if the government changes its policy on the cuts.

“I am not criticising the Fire Authority or the fire service, they are managing the budget as best they can.”

Lancashire’s Chief Fire Officer Chris Kenny said: “The consultation was thorough and the final package of revisions to emergency cover to be implemented testifies to the fact that we have listened carefully to the feedback and responded to concerns raised where possible.

“It is important to remember the service is required to make unprecedented levels of savings and although over half of these will be found elsewhere it is inevitable there will be some reduction to front line services.

“I am confident that the changes in emergency cover will deliver the savings necessary to ensure we remain within budget yet maximise the effectiveness of our emergency response capability.

“Even with these changes our overall response times to dwelling fire will remain one of the fastest in the country.”

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