LIVES could be at risk if plans to axe retained firefighters in Stratford go ahead.
So say Liberal Democrats who have hit out at Warwickshire County Council’s (WCC) cost-cutting proposal – set to save some £870,000.
Retained firefighters are an integral part of the fire service. Although not based in fire stations, they usually live or work in the community and carry a pager ready to respond to any emergency.
The crew in Stratford, and another in the north of the county in Coleshill, will be scrapped along with the fire engines used by the retained crews.
If plans go ahead Stratford would rely on stations elsewhere such as Alcester for support.
But Lib Dem county councillor Dominic Skinner feared this would endanger lives, especially with the number of new homes being built in and around Stratford.
He said: “The time to get from Stratford to Alcester takes longer than the crew’s target time of 12 minutes, particularly with the amount of traffic in the town. The time it takes is going to increase the risk to lives and property. And with Stratford getting bigger with more housing, the risk of fires will be greater.
“The retained crew do a fantastic job and Warwickshire has a responsibility to support that role as much as possible. The retained firefighters are highly trained individuals and once we lose them it will be difficult to get them back. It’s not like they can just move elsewhere. They are part time members who live and work in Stratford.
“The county council is taking resources away for a meagre saving. I think it’s shortsighted and shows a lack of knowledge.
“The Liberal Democrats will be fighting this all the way.”
WCC argue scrapping Stratford’s retained crew would have the least impact compared to cuts elsewhere.
A spokesman for WCC said: “These two reductions represent the current resources that we judge would have the least overall effect on Warwickshire as a whole if they were removed.
“Although it is recognised that this would reduce resources and would rely on fire engines from other fire stations elsewhere such as Alcester attending calls in Stratford and the surrounding area.
“These are challenging times and difficult decisions need to be made.”
The council will consider the plans during the budget decision in February.
In Warwickshire there have been three fire-related deaths since June.
Last year there were also 23 fire injuries, compared with 14 the previous year. But a fire service spokesman said the hot summer and more people using barbecues could have been responsible for the increase in injuries.