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Town's fire cover could go down to one engine
10:16am Friday 27th September 2013 in News
LEDBURY could be served by only one on-call fire engine under plans to save millions of pounds in the next three years.
Herefordshire and Worcestershire Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) says halving the number of engines from two to one would reduce the service’s annual outgoings by more than £50,000 from 2014/15.
Should the plan go ahead it would see the loss of eight retained firefighters at the Bye Street station. It currently has 14 retained members.
The proposal is one of three drawn up by the service, with another suggesting a wholetime crew be removed from Hereford and Worcester fire stations.
But the move has drawn criticism in light of plans to build more than 600 homes in the town in the coming years under Herefordshire Council’s planning blueprint.
“It would be sad for the town if we do lose one engine; a great shame,” said town and county councillor Phill Bettington. “I don’t like to see any cutbacks whatsoever, particularly with the fire service as they do such a great job.
“It would be a great loss to the town with the growing population that is expected in the forthcoming years.”
The fire service says Ledbury has 169 callouts each year, on average, with three-quarters of those within its station area. It says there is a “very low probability” firefighters would arrive any later to fires in buildings and RTCs than they do currently with two fire engines.
It admits, however, the plan, if implemented, would have knock-on effects elsewhere.
“By removing one of the two on-call fire engines from Ledbury fire station, the fire engines at Malvern, Hereford and Upton-upon-Severn would become busier,” it said.
The proposal is one of three being considered by Herefordshire and Worcestershire Fire and Rescue Service to save £4.7 million over the next three years.
The fire service says a fall in the number of callouts over recent years means it can safely cut the number of firefighters and engines it has across the two counties.
The proposals being considered are: Å Remove one fire engine from each of Hereford, Worcester and Redditch fire stations; Å Remove one of the two on-call fire engines from each of Bromyard, Ledbury and Tenbury Wells; Å Close Bewdley and Broadway stations and either close Kingsland and Whitchurch stations in Herefordshire or reduce cover in Leominster and Ross-on-Wye.
Meanwhile, Ledbury fire station is holding an electric blanket testing session next Thursday, from 10.30am to 3.30pm.
Those wishing to attend should call 01432 347030.
Alternatively, a drop-in facility will be available on the day for those who are prepared to wait for a new blanket.
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