Concerns over proposed cuts to fire service

Alnwick Fire Station
Alnwick Fire Station

An Alnwick town councillor – and former firefighter – has described proposed cuts as a ‘blatant attack on the retained fire service in Northumberland’.

As reported in the Gazette last week, Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service has to save £500,000 in 2016/17 on top of the £1.5million already cut over the past two years.

The county council’s cabinet yesterday gave the go-head to begin a 12-week period of consultation on the proposals, beginning on Monday.

One of the areas being consulted on is replacing the second retained (on-call) fire appliance in Alnwick and the retained (on-call) fire appliances at Seahouses and Wooler with smaller fire appliances. Alnwick will continue to have a retained (on-call) appliance as well as the smaller fire appliance.

The smaller appliances can attend all of the incidents the larger, traditional fire appliances can attend and could respond to certain incidents staffed by less than four firefighters, which will increase the amount of times they are available. They are also much more cost-effective.

Coun Broom mentioned a number of issues such as how a crew of three would use the larger 13.5-metre ladders, what the water capacity of smaller fire appliances would be and what equipment would be carried on these smaller fire engines.

It was noted that the vast majority of the incidents that the fire service is called to are road traffic collisions, while Coun Gordon Castle pointed out that the number of fires had been reduced by 50 or 60 per cent over the past decade through proactive advice.

It was agreed to invite Chief Fire Officer Alex Bennett to the December meeting to discuss concerns and ask questions.