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Fire service cuts could ‘put lives at risk’

Warsop firestation.

Warsop firestation.

Fire chiefs and councillors are calling on the public to fight plans to dramatically cut services in Mansfield and Warsop.

Nottinghamshire Fire Service has put forward the controversial proposals, which were first launched in 2010, which could see Warsop Fire Station closed and Mansfield permanently reduced to just one pump.

The battle against the cuts four years ago was won following a lengthy consultation, but the fire service says it must now claw back a crippling £2.4m shortfall to balance their budget.

Sean McCallum, chairman of the Nottinghamshire Fire Brigade Union (FBU) and former Mansfield station firefighter, said: “Our position is quite straightforward, that we oppose any frontline cuts.

“If there was a serious house fire with people trapped inside, we would automatically mobilise three engines - but as things are you have the engine from Mansfield, then you would have to wait for two from Ashfield and Edwinstowe.

“It would obviously mean a longer travel time to get engines there and more risk. It’s not just putting the public’s life at risk, but firefighters as well.

“We have to question whether we are giving the public the service it demands and deserves.

“Nottinghamshire Fire Service will probably say it has trimmed away all the fat already, but I believe that everything should be looked at before cutting these services.”

Under the fresh proposals, Mansfield’s Rosemary Street station could lose its retained engine permanently, leaving just one full-time engine to be crewed 24-hours-a-day.

This would then be supported by other fire engines from the surrounding areas.

But it is estimated an even bigger saving will be made by closing Warsop Fire Station - approximately £175,000.

Crewed by a retained crew, incidents in that area will be attended by surrounding stations.

Coun John Kerr, who sits on Warsop Parish Council, as well as the district council, said: “We will fight this.

“Warsop has to cover a big area, and it’s the time it takes for service to get to a place, which is the same reason we gave last time this happened.

“We had a damn good response from the public last time and I’m hoping for that again.

“Warsop is ideally situated, not just for the parish but for outlining villages.

“I understand that we have to save money, it’s the Government that’s forcing these cuts and it’s getting to the stage whether you question if its workable, and are lives being put at risk? I’d say they are.”

The public is being urged to have their say during the 12-week consultation, which was launched this week.

Other stations which could also see a reduction in engines includes Central, Stockhill and Highfield, with Collingham earmarked for closure.

However, the service says it will not address the possibility of redundancies until a final decision is made on the engines and stations.

Darrell Pulk, chairman of the Fire Authority, said: “The Fire Authority has asked the service to carry out this consultation on its behalf so it can gauge public opinion, and also so it can reassure the public that these aren’t decisions that are being taken lightly.

“The service has already made some significant savings in recent years, by reducing the number of managers it has and realigning frontline resources to the meet the demands of a changing environment. But there is still work to be done and the £2.4million deficit it now faces leaves the service with no option but to once again review how it delivers services to the people of Nottinghamshire.”

People can have their say by logging on to the consultation at www.notts-fire.gov.uk, or by requesting a copy on 0115 9670880.

 

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