County faces "the biggest threat to its public safety since WW2"

First published in News Ledbury Reporter: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

HEREFORDSHIRE has to face down the 'biggest threat to its public safety' since the Second World War.

With that claim Cllr Jim Kenyon helped sway Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Authority (HWFRA) toward deferring a cut  in 24/7 999 cover across the county.

Now the new HWFRA member says there can be no let up in the fight to keep two crews.

Cllr Kenyon told the Hereford Times this week that he was far from convinced retained crew cover could cope with the upsurge in call-outs.

“By my reckoning it will amount to extra 180 shouts a year, that’s pressure on retained crews and pressure on employers that allow them to turn out,” said Cllr Kenyon.

“Retained stations where there are two pumps are already struggling to maintain both. While Hereford Station could have a situation where there are more full time non-operational officers than front fire fighters on duty over 24 hours,” he said.

The issue of 24 hour retained crew availability has already been raised against the loss of Hereford’s second whole-time pump.

Cllr Kenyon stressed that the issue was not about the quality of retained response – recognised as strong in the county – but what was expected of them if Hereford lost that pump.

“Effectively, Herefordshire would lose 50% of its full time response capacity compared to 12% in Worcestershire," said Cllr Kenyon.

If Hereford lost a second full-time pump the nearest options for full-time response would be Malvern  or Worcester.

The HWFRA deferral means the county can keep two full-time fire crews on standby until September at least.

Thousands have already put their names to a petition launched by Hereford fire fighters to support keeping the second crew.

Stations at Ledbury, Leominster, Ross-on-Wye, Bromyard, Kingsland and Whitchurch stay as they are.

However, HWFRA accepts that the cuts will compromise response times, but, maintains that, with the retained crews, enough back up is in place.

Cutting a second whole time crew would see just seven whole time firefighters to crew a pump and specialist appliances.

The specialist options on standby at Hereford are an aerial ladder, an incident response unit, a Land Rover 4x4, an ultra heavy rescue vehicle, a water rescue team and a water rescue vehicle.

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