Stations and jobs face the axe as fire chiefs grapple with £18m grant cuts

TEN fire stations are to shut in West Yorkshire and more than 100 full-time firefighter posts will be lost over five years as fire chiefs try to cope with losing millions in Government grants.

But there will be five new stations built and the jobs will be shed through natural wastage.

West Yorkshire’s chief fire officer Simon Pilling will unveil the plans next week. He said the emergency fire cover review he ordered last year had identified critical areas of over- and under-provision which could not be ignored.

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He said: “Our innovative fire safety work has driven down deaths and injuries to an all-time low and some stations are now half as busy as they were a few years ago, but the brigade still largely provides the same level of cover, from the same number of stations as it did when it was formed in 1974.

“On top of that, many of the stations we inherited from the old West Riding and county boroughs are now clearly no longer in the ideal place given population shift.”

Mr Pilling said that while piecemeal change so far had brought economies and improved effectiveness, the prospect of losing around £18m in central Government grants over the next four years meant the pace of reform had to accelerate. He added: “The emergency cover review was primarily focused on life risk, making sure we can direct resources where they’re needed most.”

The proposals will include new stations in:

Killingbeck, to replace Gipton and Stanks;

Menston, to replace Rawdon and Otley;

Rastrick, to replace Brighouse and Elland;

South Kirkby, to replace Hemsworth and South Elmsall;

Batley Carr, to replace Batley and Dewsbury.

He will also recommend that a smaller fire response unit should replace the second fire engine at Moortown and that the second engine at Silsden becomes a back-up appliance based at Keighley.

Mr Pilling said: “Put simply, fewer appliances based at optimum sites will enable the brigade to maintain excellent fire cover while also saving over £4m a year in running costs.”

Implementation will take place between April 2012 and 2017.