RESIDENTS and firefighters got the chance to have their say on proposed cuts to South Yorkshire’s fire service at a public meeting in Sheffield.
The meeting last night at The Church on The Corner on Buchanan Road, Parson Cross, was one of a number of events organised after fire chiefs launched a consultation over a series of cost-cutting measures.
Bosses want to gauge public opinion on proposals to help save £10 million over the next four years.
The measures include closing fire stations, introducing ‘small incident units’ to attend minor fires and changing crewing arrangements at some of the region’s smaller stations.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Mark Shaw told the meeting that the proposals would have ‘the minimum impact on South Yorkshire’ – but admitted that some areas of Sheffield would see reduced fire service cover.
Under the plans, Mansfield Road, Darnall and Mosborough fire stations in Sheffield would be closed and two new ones built in their place, near the Parkway and at Birley.
Royston fire station in Barnsley would also shut.
Mr Shaw said some areas in the south-west and north-west of Sheffield would see a reduced level of cover.
“We acknowledge while there are winners, there are some people who don’t see the level of service they currently do,” he added.
He also said the introduction of close proximity crews – where a smaller station is manned for 24 hours by a single crew, who sleep overnight in on-site accommodation – would save hundreds of thousands of pounds a year, and that the small incident units, staffed by two crew members, would ensure that full-size appliances are freed up for bigger incidents.
But Dave Gardner, crew manager at Elm Lane station, expressed concerns that the smaller units would leave lives at risk if incorrect information is given to firefighters in 999 calls.
“It will happen eventually – they’re not a replacement for a proper engine,” he said.
His colleague, who also works at Elm Lane, also said he was unhappy with the proposals.
“For a number of years we’ve been running very close to the edge of staffing levels,” he said. “To impose these changes is going to make things worse.”
One local resident said he was frightened the fire service wouldn’t be able to cope with a major incident similar to the M5 motorway crash earlier this month.
“I wouldn’t like to think my family were trapped in a vehicle and one of your appliances was at a grass fire because of cutbacks,” he added.
Mr Shaw said: “What we’re proposing will have the minimum impact on South Yorkshire. If it’s not this then it’s got to be something else.”
The public consultation ends on February 6. More meetings are happening in Sheffield at St Catherine’s Church, Hastilar Road South, Manor, next Tuesday, Mosborough Methodist Church, Chapel Street, next Wednesday and Sheffield Transport Club, Meadowhead, on December 14, all at 7pm.
A meeting at Royston Civic Hall, Barnsley, is taking place on December 7 at 7pm, while an event at Edlington Victoria Primary School, Doncaster, is happening on December 5 at 6pm.