Four fire stations face axe in plans

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FIREFIGHTERS fear lives could be lost by plans to close four South Yorkshire fires stations to save money.

Two of Sheffield’s busiest full time stations - Darnall and Mansfield Road - are among those facing the axe.

And retained stations in Mosborough in Sheffield and Royston in Barnsley could also go if the cull gets approval.

The plans have been drawn up in a bid to save £10 million a year over the next four years, in response to Government funding cuts.

Fire chiefs said they would build a new station on or near Sheffield Parkway as a replacement for the Darnall and Mansfield Road bases, and another a new full-time station would be built at Birley to replace Mosborough.

Edlington fire station in Doncaster would also lose its part-time crew under the proposals, but keep its full time firefighters.

There are also plans for three roving fire engines, which normally provide cover when crews are training, to be taken out of service.

Another controversial proposal is to change working times and have firefighters at up to six stations at work 24 hours a day for four days at a time.

They would work day shifts but be expected to be on call at their stations at night in return for extra cash.

Fire chiefs claim it would reduce the need for 10 firefighters at each station - saving £400,000 a station.

There are also plans to reduce the number of firefighters employed by the fire service by around 70 posts, with bosses not replacing employees who retire.

The Fire Brigades Union has voiced concern at the plan, claiming closing stations could cost lives.

Spokesman John Gilliver said: “Somebody could end up paying for this with their life.

”The fire service management is playing a very dangerous game - Russian roulette with people’s lives.

“I don’t think there is a station in Sheffield that is not busy so to close two of the busiest down cannot be right.

“We are already understaffed and not meeting response time targets, so moving stations away from the communities they serve will only increase response time further - they should be in the heart of communities.”

Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts, whose constituents live in Darnall and Mosborough, said: “I want to see evidence that all my constituents will be able to get a fire engine to their property in the future as quickly as they can get one now.”

A fire service spokesman said: “We expect to lose around £10 million per year in Government funding by 2015, from a £60 million budget.

“We are cutting management and administration costs by 25 per cent but this only saves around £2.8 million per year.

“We don’t want to make these changes but, as professional officers, have researched the options to save money whilst having minimum impact on the public.

“There will be a full public consultation period before final decisions are made.

“We would be happy to hear any alternative s to how we can make £10 million per year of savings.”

The proposals will be discussed by South Yorkshire Fire Authority at the end of the month.