Consultation begins on proposed cuts threatening Ripon firefighters’ jobs

NADV 1403181AM14 Fire on Albert Street. Picture : Adrian Murray. (1403181AM14)
NADV 1403181AM14 Fire on Albert Street. Picture : Adrian Murray. (1403181AM14)

Fully trained and qualified Ripon firefighters could lose their jobs under new proposals in the Fire Cover Review.

North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service plans to cut 43 frontline staff – and Ripon is one of six stations to be affected by the proposals.

The station’s standard day-crewed fire engine will either be replaced with a tactical response vehicle or a mixed- crewed engine.

A consultation on the proposals was launched on June 20 with the first of these in Ripon to be held on Wednesday, September 9.

The authority claims the changes are necessary due to the number of incidents fire crews attend reducing significantly since the last full cover review in the 1990s.

Area manager Owen Hayward said: “There have been 34 per cent fewer instances over the past five years and we need to match our resources to that.

“We think that there is an over-provision at the moment and that these proposals meet the risk to fire fighters.”

However, while Fire Brigades Union Brigade chairman Simon Wall admitted there had been an incident reduction, he stressed the size of the risk to firefighters had not changed in this time.

He said: “We can’t agree with the chief commander that our service is over-staffed. We’ve already had a 10 per cent reduction in our workforce over 10 years.

“We could be looking at big reductions of fully trained and qualified firefighters.”

Mr Wall also raised concerns about the possibility of Ripon’s standard day-crewed engine being replaced with a tactical response vehicle, describing it as a ‘big risk’.

He said: “There are two stations affected within our area, Harrogate and Ripon, including the downgrading of the fire engine to vans, we do not believe that this is a positive step forward.

“They only carry two fire fighters and can only go to certain instances. They have limited capabilities and will stretch the already under pressure part-time fire fighters.

“It’s a big risk, some fire services have introduced them as an additional service, not as a replacement service.

“We are being thrown in at the deep end by actually replacing fire engines with these vehicles. There’s no back up and there’s a major concern for our safety.”

Despite these concerns, Mr Hayward stressed the smaller vehicle would still have the equipment necessary to deal with a number of instances.

He said: “In other places they are using the vehicles as smaller units but we are looking at a greater role for them. We think they will be able to deal with many instances on their own, like road accidents, but will be part of a bigger picture to deal with instances like house fires.”