Livewire - October 18, 2013

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By Jack Arnold

I voice my extreme anger and grave concern with regard to the intention to remove one fire appliance from Blackpool Forest Gate Fire Station in order to facilitate budget reductions.

I served 30 years in the Lancashire fire service, the first 14 in the former Blackpool Borough Fire Brigade. I retired in 1990, at the rank of Senior Divisional Officer. I was Senior Staff Officer at Brigade HQ reporting to the Chief Officer on most aspects of operational matters.

Detractors will be quick to say things have changed but fire does not change, and the risk to life cannot be ignored or used as a statistical argument. Statistics can be massaged to prove a point.

One such is the way in which fire deaths are recorded. If a person dies at a later date, ie in hospital, the Government says this isn’t a fire death and therefore it doesn’t get recorded as such. The statistic then becomes an argument for reducing fire cover.

It’s also dangerous to categorise fires as large or small and suggest that large fires are decreasing. Let me remind the powers that be that the Yates’s fire, Grand Hotel and Walkabout fires to name but few all started out as small incidents.

The most serious and frightening budget cut proposal could remove one fire appliance from the Blackpool station - leaving one appliance at South Shore, one at Bispham and one at Blackpool Forest Gate.

Blackpool Fire Station covers the largest congested area of guest houses, HMOs and apartments in the North West with consequent massive life risk, drug problems and alcoholics, all of which may require assistance to a greater or lesser degree. Should the only fire appliance at Blackpool be involved in another incident for a period of time, from where will the next appliance respond to cover the whole of central Blackpool considering Illuminations traffic, roadworks and building projects?

If you reduce fire fighting capabilities you run the serious risk of allowing fires to intensify and that equals a larger fire and potential life risk. Fires don’t recognise legislation...