Firefighters have made an impassioned plea for public involvement in a consultation on cuts that could see Blackpool lose one of its fire engines.
At a public meeting last night Lancashire Fire and Rescue’s chief fire officer outlined how the service could cut one of Forest Gate fire station’s two pumps in a bid to save £10m.
The cuts could also see South Shore Fire Station move from being a wholetime station, with four watches and one fire engine, to ‘day crewing plus’, meaning just one watch with one fire engine and on call firefighters at night.
But the fire brigades union, firefighters and members of the community all called for more to be done to oppose the 25 per cent spending cut being imposed on the fire service by central Government.
Lancashire Fire and Rescue intends to make the £10m savings over the next four years, with £5m from back office changes, without losing any of its 39 fire stations, but by cutting five of its 60 pumps.
Chief fire officer Justin Johnston said: “We need to balance the books. Our aim is to take the least worst options across the county.”
The loss of a Forest Gate fire engine, representing a saving of £1m, would not come into place until 2017/18 should the fire authority approve the savings suggestions.
The South Shore fire station change would happen in 2016/17, representing a £400,000 saving.
The fire officers outlined to the meeting, attended by around 50 people at Devonshire Primary School, Blackpool, the figures used to ascertain areas which would see the least impact from cuts to services.
But the fire brigades union, community representatives and residents all called for Blackpool to be viewed in different light due to its “unique” qualities.
Chris Molloy, fire brigades union representative for Blackpool, said: “Blackpool is the busiest station in Lancashire - most fire deaths, most fire injuries, most critical fires. The town gets 13 million visitors per year and we know about the problems related to alcohol and drugs and the housing stock.
“To remove a fire engine is another nail in the coffin. We need as much resources as we can.
“I would urge everyone to please, please get involved with this consultation.”
Dave Blacker, chairman of Talbot police and community together (PACT), read a letter submitted by 111 members of the community submitted as part of the consultation.
It read: “Blackpool should be considered as a special case, in view of the abnormal size of the population in the season, the unusual types of attractions and buildings.
“This is coupled with the rabbit warren of rooms in many of the hotels and homes of multiple occupation.
“Blackpool is one of the most deprived areas of the country which also brings into play a host of problems.”
To take part in the consultation, visit: www.lancsfirerescue.org.uk/campaign