North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue defend proposed budget cuts

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has defended their recent budget cuts proposals in the Fire Cover Review, but have refused to rule out redundancies.

The proposals include reducing the number of fire engines available to respond to incidents within five minutes as well as replacing some with smaller ‘tactical response vehicles’.

An increase in the use of volunteers and a greater use of retained part-timers has also been proposed in response to the reduction in central government funding and recent reforms to Local Government Finance.

However, after criticisms of the proposals by the Fire Brigade Union, the head of risk management at North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, Owen Hayward, said that changes would be made in a ‘sensible and safe manner’.

He said: “We are looking at taking cost out of the system and managing the reduction in demand because, in the last ten years there had been an over-provision for appliances.

“We are looking at a range of options that will increase the ways we can deliver our fire service. There may be changes but we want to get them right before June.

“However, we can’t give any guarantees on redundancies as we don’t know what the future holds.

“We’re planning to make changes through the natural leave of staff and we have anticipated 30 to 40 staff leaving over the next five years which should cover our costs.”

Mr Hayward defended the proposals for a move to ‘tactical response vehicles’ and the proposals to make only 27 fire engines able to respond to calls in five minutes from 46.

He said smaller vehicles could take initial actions at a fire before other appliances arrived and that, in practice, not all fire engines were needed immediately on a call out.