South Yorkshire fire appliances may face axe

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FIRE chiefs are considering reducing the number of spare appliances available to South Yorkshire firefighters, to save cash.

Bosses need to save a predicted £10 million over the next few years, so have decided to revise their vehicle strategy in a bid to cut overheads.

Chiefs put forward seven suggestions to the county’s fire authority yesterday, including reducing the number of spare appliances the fire service owns from seven to five.

But members asked to defer the discussion until fire chiefs are able to provide more costings on each option.

Coun Paul Scriven, a Lib Dem representative on the fire authority, said he wanted more detailed figures before making any decisions on the future of the fire service fleet.

He also called for a review on the strategy for providing company cars to fire service executives, including a plan to spend £400,000 on vehicles for senior ranking officers over the next few years.

Coun Scriven claimed that, compared to neighbouring West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Humberside fire services, South Yorkshire’s top brass get more expensive cars than their counterparts which are changed more regularly.

Speaking ahead of the meeting he said: “This is the kind of extravagant spending that the authority needs to control.”

Other options the fire authority has been asked to consider are replacing small vans with vehicles which use environmental-friendly fuels and extending the life of fire engines from 10 to 12 years.

Bosses have also put forward a suggestion to look at ‘collaboration on specialist vehicles’ that the fire service could share with other organisations.

A fire service spokesman said: “Since 2005 we have taken steps to significantly lower the specification of the cars provided to senior officers.

“We continually review the provision of officer cars and we know the amount we spend is at least in line with, and in many cases considerably less than, many other public service organisations.”

In September the fire service operated 204 vehicles – 37 fire engines and four combined aerial rescue pumps, 55 cars, and 83 support vehicles including minibuses, four-wheel drives and vans – with a ‘book value’ of £8.1 million.