Fire service cuts plan ‘could put lives at risk’

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Fire service cuts proposed for the Harborough district have been condemned as “disastrous and potentially life-threatening” by a councillor and former firefighter.

Under the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Combined Fire Authority plans, Kibworth Fire Station with its one fire appliance would shut completely, and Market Harborough Fire Station would lose one of its two main fire appliances. Lutterworth, with another one appliance, would not be affected.

But Liberal Democrat district councillor Roger Dunton, who had almost 30 years in the Fire Service, mostly in Market Harborough, said: “I feel very strongly about this.

“I think it’s disastrous for the Harborough area, and potentially life-threatening.

“A house fire needs at least two pumps. If there’s a house fire on the Harborough patch, it could take some considerable time to get that second pump out from Lutterworth or Wigston.”

In a press briefing the Fire Service said it had to make changes, not only to meet a reduction in government funding, but also because the service had changed from predominantly a fire service to predominantly an emergency rescue service.

It said improved safety had led to a 42 per cent reduction in emergency call-outs in the last 10 years, and far fewer building fires.

They say the changes across the Fire Authority area would produce savings rising to £1.5 million a year.

And there could be up to 88 redundancies county-wide, mainly in the number of “retained” or on-call firefighters, rather than full-time staff.

But the Fire Authority vowed there would still be “immediate response to every emergency” and “enhanced safety despite the savings”.

The Fire Authority were due to launch the consultation about their proposed cuts today (Thursday).

The Authority will be asked to approve the final proposals in February, 2016.

Cllr Phil Knowles, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Harborough District Council added: “Harborough will be seeing a huge increase in the number of homes.

“Cutting front line services in this way would be a huge worry to everyone.”