A former fire chief has blasted plans to remove a fire engine from Hyndburn.
Under Lancashire Fire’s Emergency Cover Review carried out in December it was agreed that one engine would be removed, leaving just one full-time and one retained engine in the borough.
Gary Monk, who served for 15 years as Hyndburn Fire Station commander, said that when the change comes in April Hyndburn will slip from a
‘premier service’ to a ‘poor service’.
Speaking at a Baxenden Area Council meeting, Gary said: “In my personal view, the situation is far worse than the public know about.
“I know the amount of incidents in Hyndburn has been going down year on year due to the preventative work that I and my colleagues have carried out over the past decade.
“So in the face of that it is easy to argue that we don’t need two full time engines.
“They have sold it to the public on the basis that the delay will be minimal, but in my opinion having served as a fire officer for as long as I did, is that the public are not being told the truth.
“I think that Hyndburn at the moment has a premier fire service, but with these changes it will be a poor service.
“I am a resident in Hyndburn and I am passionate about the fire service, I don’t want to be all doom and gloom but I need to make people aware.”
Gary added that his main area of concern was around crewing levels, he said: “The crewing levels will be seven per shift at Hyndburn, that means that seven people will have to manage the full time engine and the ladder platform engine, that is fine if no one ever takes any annual leave or is ill. But I see it as a big concern.”
Speaking at the meeting Baxenden ward councillor, Terry Hurn said: ”I hope Gary’s comments will set the wheels in motion for a rethink on this issue.”
Hyndburn council leader Miles Parkinson chairs the fire authority’s planning committee and said he would be meeting with Gary to hear his concerns.
He said: “Of course I will meet with Mr Monk but the fact is that the fire service have to make significant reductions and of course this will have an impact.
“There was widespread public consultation on this and the chief fire officer reassured us that this course of action would be the one to have the least impact, it was the least worse option. There is no getting away from the fact that the government cutbacks are a detriment to the fire service.”
Speaking after the Emergency Cover Review, Chris Kenny, Lancashire’s Chief Fire Officer, assured residents that despite the loss of an engine service would remain the same.
He said: “It is important to remember the service is required to make unprecedented levels of savings and although over half of these will be found elsewhere it is inevitable there will be some reduction to front line services. Emergency Cover Review
“I am confident that the changes in emergency cover will deliver the savings necessary to ensure we remain within budget yet maximise the effectiveness of our emergency response capability.
“Even with these changes our overall response times to dwelling fire will remain one of the fastest in the country.”