Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/382/4316
No to fire service cuts
FIREFIGHTERS AND local residents in Barnsley have been campaigning to stop the closure of two major fire stations and the halving of fire appliances in others. They have been rallying support, by collecting 7,000 signatures so far, to try to persuade the fire authority not to close Brampton and Mexborough fire stations and merge them into one. This is part of the Fire Authority's Integrated Risk Management Plan.
These plans replace the former national standard on response times. Barnsley Fire Brigades Union (FBU) secretary, Jerry Pagan has been at the forefront of the campaign. He sees the plan as directly affecting lives, as it ups the response time from eight to 15/20 minutes, dependent on how you 'score' under your area's risk assessment.
"Moving Brampton station to the Dearne Valley will mean response times to homes in Wombwell will dramatically increase, directly affecting the lives of residents and firefighters, far from improving safety, as they claim. Fires will be more sustained with the increased likelihood of property damage.
"In other rural areas there won't be enough fire appliances to serve them if the plans go ahead to halve the provision. A former chief fire officer has admitted in an area forum that the rural areas need two pumps.
"The population of the area has grown since the original survey in 1968, so it is essential to keep the cover at least at its current level."
Local residents have been lobbying the local fire authority at the area forums, angry at the plans. It was the combined action of residents and firefighters that saved Ringinglow Fire Station in Sheffield when they collected 5,000 signatures last year. A fire authority officer said at the time that you "can't ignore that type of opposition".
The FBU are continuing to petition at shops in town centres during the consultation period and are holding public meetings to increase support for their campaign.
In The Socialist 26 February 2005: