South Yorkshire fire brigade makes more cuts

Fire station of the future on the Parkway.
Fire station of the future on the Parkway.
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One of Sheffield’s two new flagship fire stations will be staffed only part-time - and the other is having its crews’ working hours reduced, as part of a fresh round of cuts.

The planned stations, at Birley Moor and near to the Sheffield Parkway, were both intended to be open 24/7.

But now Birley is to operate part-time, while the second engines at Parkway and the main stations in Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster are all set to be staffed at night by on-call firefighters only.

The moves could spell the loss of firefighters’ jobs - but The Star understands that will be through staff taking retirement before 2017, rather than redundancies.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service needs to save £12 million by 2017, cuts which last year led to the removal of five pumps and stations closing at Darnall, Mansfield Road, Mosborough and Royston in Barnsley.

To replace Darnall and Mansfield Road, the Parkway facility is proposed for a site close to Bowden Wood roundabout, while the station in Birley was meant to improve cover in south-east Sheffield and enable closure of part-time Mosborough.

Chief fire officer James Courtney said the cuts would ‘protect the frontline’.

“Losing £12m, or 20 per cent of our funding, has forced us to reconsider our entire frontline provision, but we feel we can state now that we do not plan to remove any further fire stations or rescue pumps in the lifetime of this plan, subject to the further cuts being of the levels we expect.

“We are committed to keeping as many stations open as possible, to protect the speed of our initial response to incidents.”

But Graham Wilkinson, chairman of the Fire Brigades Union in South Yorkshire, said the decision meant new stations were not needed.

“In my view we’re wasting money building new stations when there is no requirement. Taxpayers are going to be paying more council tax for a poorer service. My biggest concern is about the safety of the public.”

It also proposed to replace South Yorkshire’s CARP - combined aerial rescue pump - appliances with separate rescue pumps and dedicated aerial appliances.

Mr Courtney said the brigade will continue reporting performance against its response time target of six minutes - despite previously suggesting it could be scrapped - to ‘provide a clear indicator as to how Government cuts are affecting service’.