Fire service cuts could claim lives, firefighter says

Cuts to the fire service could claim lives.
Cuts to the fire service could claim lives.

A Lancaster firefighter says the public could end up paying a high price for the loss of one of the city’s fire engines.

The Guardian revealed last week how Lancaster Fire Station could lose one of its two fire engines and half of its 48 firefighters from 2017/18 as part of a review.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service says it must save £5m following Government cuts.

Crew manager Phil Rigby, Fire Brigades Union branch chairman for Lancaster, said: “It’s obvious that if you decrease firefighters then you decrease the service as well.

“The fire service is the cheapest form of insurance for the public to have.

“The loss of one of the engines means the public could be paying a high price for a small change.

“This is no more than a cost cutting exercise and the people who will lose out will only find out when they are involved in a fire.”

Mr Rigby said the move could lead to a shortfall in fire engines or a critical delay in reaching a blaze.

“Those first few minutes are the most dangerous and most critical in getting a fire engine to an incident,” he said.

“Lancaster has the largest station area in the country and it covers a wide rural area.

“A fire engine can’t be in two places at once and we could be depending on outlying areas to supply an engine.

“You are losing the certainty and response times are bound to go up.

“The amount of money being saved is a drop in the ocean compared to what people are going to lose.”

Figures show that the number of incidents attended by Lancaster Fire Station fell from 1,330 in 2010/11 to 795 in 2011/12 and 623 in 2012/13.

A 12-week consultation on the plans ends on October 20.