FEARS have been raised townspeople in Stratford and Alcester will be put at risk by plans to revamp Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Emergency vehicles would be more evenly distributed across the county to reduce response times in rural areas, if the proposals go-ahead.
For Stratford this would mean cutting day cover to just one appliance from next year, with the station’s ‘on-call’ engine only operating at night.
In Alcester there would be no night cover, reversing a 2012 decision to staff the station for 24 hours every day.
The service overhaul would save £2.4 million over the next four years but the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) have warned the new model could put town centres at risk.
Speaking to the Observer, the FBU’s Warwickshire spokesman, Marcus Giles, said: “Response times are going to be longer in town centres, that is clear. You need a minimum of eight firefighters immediately on scene to deal with a fire, and two whole-time fire appliances in town centres.
“This is putting both the public and firefighters in the town centres in danger to improve rural attendance times.
” I understand there has to be changes because of money, but why is it always the front-end? That is the important part. That is where the public want us.”
Current proposals – subject to an on-going public consultation – outline how £1.3 million of the £2.4 million savings goal could be achieved by 2016.
If approved, stations at Leamington and Rugby would also see a reduction in either engine or crew availability.
This would allow for two new ‘response locations’ at Gaydon and Ryton, both of which would house one appliance.
Other stations including Shipston and Henley would retain their current cover with an extra engine based at Wellesbourne.
In total there would be 20 engines available across Warwickshire at all times, with more crews during peak periods.
The aim is for 80 per cent of emergencies to be attended within ten minutes.
Warwickshire County Council’s community safety spokesman, Coun Les Caborn, said: “Urban areas will still receive the same weight of response as before.
“In some instances the second and if required the third fire engines will be responding from other locations within the county. However this is no different than we do now in certain circumstances.
“This greater coverage of response is a real improvement on how we currently operate and far more in keeping with the risk that is presented in modern Warwickshire in which the incidence of domestic fires have become less common.
“Road traffic accidents present a far greater risk and this is rightly where we are looking to improve our response times with the new service model.”