North Yorkshire firefighters say proposed cuts will put public safety at greater risk

North Yorkshire firefighters have expressed serious concerns to a raft of proposed cuts to the fire and rescue service which they say will put public safety at greater risk.

By Duncan Atkins
Thursday, 9th June 2022, 10:45 am

The Chief Fire Officer’s proposals released for consultation by North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) Zoe Metcalfe include cutting the second fire engine from night-time cover at Harrogate and Scarborough fire stations, changing Huntington fire station from full-time to part-time cover and significantly cutting attendance to automatic fire alarm call outs.

Other key proposals set out in the plan include:

* Removing the need to always use blue lights to automatic fire alarm responses at premises where people don’t sleep, and not responding to these alarms for two extra hours per day.

Zoe Metcalfe.

* Halting monitoring of responses relative to a publicly stated target time, and instead implementing monitoring relative to “response principles”.

A public consultation was recently launched to gather the community’s views on the proposals.

The union is urging firefighters and the public to have their say and make their concerns heard over the impact the plans will have on emergency fire cover across the region.

North Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union Brigade Secretary Steve Howley said: “Firefighters urge that the public reject these proposals and call on people to visit the PFCC’s website to strongly oppose all cuts to emergency response.

"The PFCC needs to fight for the correct funding from government, not simply mask underfunding by slashing services and providing the public of North Yorkshire with a second-rate emergency response service that will put lives at risk.

“North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (NYFRS) has been promising these integrated risk management proposals for the past two years, and time after time we have been given delays and excuses.

"For a Chief Fire Officer to table cuts of this magnitude to emergency fire response in York, Harrogate and Scarborough just weeks before retiring is quite frankly appalling.

"We need Zoe Metcalfe to stand up for her communities and reject these proposals rather than put their safety at risk.”

Regarding the proposal to cut night-time cover from Harrogate and Scarborough fire stations' second fire appliance, Mr Howley said: “NYFRS are replacing one botched cut with another, removing the contentious Tactical Response Vehicles which are crewed with too few firefighters to affect a rescue from a house fire, but replacing them with a full-sized fire engine only crewed half of the time.

“Although given quantities of emergency calls fall during certain time periods, Home Office statistics show that serious emergencies which require the most resources remain constant during the time period these cuts are proposed.

“Under this plan, the remaining crews at Scarborough and Harrogate will be waiting for part-time staff to travel from their home address to their local fire stations in Sherburn, Filey, Robin Hood's Bay, Knaresborough, Summerbridge and Ripon, then travel to the emergencies in Harrogate and Scarborough.

"Firefighters see this as an unacceptable delay to life-saving intervention at the most serious incidents.

“Further cuts to emergency response in the county is not the answer, particularly when NYFRS claims to have a balanced medium-term budget."