Budget cut fears for local fire stations

FIRE chiefs have warned that stations could close if ‘unfair’ Government budget cuts are made later this year.

Chief fire officer Jamie Courtney warned that cuts could result in the closure of fire stations and longer response time, heightening the risk to communities.

Mr Courtney spoke out as South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue (SYFR) released performance figures for the last year - which revealed a reduction in emergency incidents dealt with by crews.

The number of accidental house fire in South Yorkshire fell in 2011/12 to 618, from 647 the previous year and the number of road traffic collisions attended by firefighters fell to an all-time low of 387.

Hoax calls attended by firefighters were also the lowest ever, at 80, as was the number of arson incidents which involved property such as buildings and cars, which is down to 1,046.

A dry summer meant arson fires involving grassland and rubbish were up to 5,079, but this remained the third-lowest total ever recorded by SYFR.

Mr Courtney said: “These figures represent another excellent year’s work by firefighters, support staff, and control operators in making communities safer and reducing the number of emergencies we have attended.”

“South Yorkshire people are safer than they have ever been before.”

“However, Metropolitan fire services like ours were hit hard by the cuts for 2011-13.”

“The second round of cuts will be announced in December. I am genuinely concerned that if the cuts fall unfairly on services like South Yorkshire again, the result will be the closure of fire stations and longer response times.”

“The risk to local communities will increase.

Rother Valley MP Kevin Barron said: “Having attended meetings in Parliament, I have heard directly from SYFR about the effects that funding cuts could cause.”

“I share their concerns, particularly as there have been major safety improvements over a number of years.”