Fire station fight continues

Snainton Fire Station, operated by retained firefighters, threatened with closure by North Yorks Fire and Recue Service.  Picture by Andrew Higgins   sn122558c    22/06/12
Snainton Fire Station, operated by retained firefighters, threatened with closure by North Yorks Fire and Recue Service. Picture by Andrew Higgins sn122558c 22/06/12
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Villagers living west of Scarborough are being urged to join the fight to save Snainton fire station as a matter of “life or death”.

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is proposing to close the station after identifying it as a “low risk” area with low call out activity.

However the local Fire Brigade Union claims “low risk doesn’t mean no risk”, and that response times are “life or death”.

Speaking at a meeting with local parish councillors, the union urged the public to write to the fire authority to oppose the plans, which it believes will increase response times, and put pressure on remaining crews.

Steve Howley, chairman of the Fire Brigade Union for North Yorkshire said: “Response times are life or death. I wont apologise for that being blunt because it is important that people realise just how much that saying is true.

“Also fire prevention measures don’t offset rapid response times. The fire authority says it will put more money into Community Fire Safety.

“Fire alarms don’t put out fires, they don’t rescue you from burning buildings, and they don’t cut people out of cars.”

Snainton Fire Station, in High Street, is crewed by on-call firefighters who respond to the fire station from their home or place of work.

The station, which is due for replacement, has been highlighted as covering one of the lowest risk areas in North Yorkshire by the fire authority, with an average activity level of 37 incidents per year over five years.

The chief fire officer Nigel Hutchinson has said the move is not about cost saving, but revealed the closure would save the authority £128,000 a year.

However Mr Howley argued the station provides vital back up for neighbouring crews, and infact responded to 78 incidents last year.

Cllr David Jeffels, who attending the meeting, added that the station, which is crewed by “well trained and knowledgeable fire fighters” is ideally located to provide back up for Scarborough and Pickering as well as covering incidents on the A170, the A64, and the North Yorkshire Moors.

The Fire Authority is due to make it decision on the future of Snainton Fire Station when it meets on December 12. In the mean time the Union is urging residents to contact the authority and the chief fire officer to oppose the closure. Steve Howley said: “The voice of the communities really will win or lose this. Stand up and have your say.”