The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in Northumberland has expressed grave concerns at the scale of cuts proposed by the county council, saying they will have a significant impact on the level of risk facing the public and firefighters.
Northumberland County Council yesterday announced proposed changes affecting the entire county, with Haydon Bridge fire station set to close and the loss of a retained appliance at West Hartford. Fire engines at Alnwick, Wooler, Seahouses and Ponteland are to be replaced by smaller vehicles.
There will be no changes to stations in Pegswood, Hexham, Berwick, Amble, Belford, Bellingham, Haltwhistle, Prudhoe, Rothbury and Holy Island..
The council’s cabinet meeting on Thursday, November 19, will discuss the proposed changes and be asked to agree a 12-week period of consultation on the proposals.
Guy Tiffin, secretary of the FBU in Northumberland, said: "Firefighters across Northumberland are shocked and deeply concerned at the level of cuts announced and the impact they will have on the safety of the public and firefighters.
"Northumberland is one of the most rural counties in England with extended times for the arrival of fire appliances to incidents. These reductions exacerbate this problem. The residents of Northumberland are literally facing a postcode lottery in terms of a quick response to a fire or other rescue incident.
"These cuts are neither an intelligent use of resources nor based on the risk across the county. These cuts are based on the slash and burn culture of the Conservative Government who are not prepared to resource and fund fire and rescue services appropriately."
Steve Walker, brigade chairman for the FBU in Northumberland, added: "Every second counts when firefighters are called upon to respond to an emergency incident. We understand the financial restrictions being placed on Northumberland County Council by the current Government, but the fire service in Northumberland simply cannot absorb these reductions following years of being cut beyond the bone. This has to stop or people are going to die needlessly. It is already happening in some areas of the country."