FIRE SERVICE CUTS: Fears that Lancaster fire engine cuts will cause deaths

Lancaster Fire Station.
Lancaster Fire Station.

Fire service cuts will lead to delays of up to five minutes – putting lives in Lancaster under threat.

Government cuts mean proposals to reduce the number of fire engines in the city from two to one are expected to be implemented in 2016.

But worried firefighters, who have been campaigning for months, say the public and government need to understand it will cost lives.

The second Lancaster engine would be replaced by a retained service – which could mean delays of up to five minutes for the part-time crew attending an incident.

Lancaster currently has 40 full-time firefighters, working on a four-watch shift basis.

In addition there are four watch managers and eight crew managers.

When the cuts go ahead in 2016, this is expected to drop to about 24 in total, with the other crew members redeployed elsewhere in the county.

Instead, part-time, or retained, firefighters will take their place.

Neil Parkinson, Lancaster Fire Brigades Union (FBU) branch rep, said: “People walk past the fire station and see four bays and assume there are four fire engines, but there are four bays because there were traditionally three fire engines and some special vehicles.

“After 2016 there will only be one full-time fire engine.”

FBU secretary for Lancashire, Steve Harman, said vital time could be wasted if a second crew is delayed reaching an incident.

He said: “If there’s a report of people trapped in a fire, you need two engines with a minimum of nine firefighters.

“What Lancaster will get is a delay of up to five minutes from the second team, because they are retained.

“This means that when the first team arrives they have a decision as to what role to take.

“They might have to locate casualties as well as extinguish the fire, and so at any stage you can find you have run out of crew.

“It’s in the first few minutes that we can make a difference.

“Fire spreads so quickly; as soon as it has taken hold every second counts, so the quicker you get fire engines effectively fighting the fire the better it is.”

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