Bridlington could lose one of its three fire engines as Humberside Fire and Rescue Service looks to save £5m.
As part of a number of budget cutting measures, the service has drawn up preliminary plans which would see an engine lost from either the Bridlington, Hornsea or Withernsea stations.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Dene Sanders said the cuts would not impact on the safety of residents, and pointed out that the number of incidents in the town has dropped by 26% since 2006.
But Richard Walker, brigade secretary of the Fire Brigades Union Humberside, said any cuts to front line service would “inevitably put the public at more risk”.
“We are opposed to any cuts, but we understand that the service has little choice but to try and find these savings,” said Mr Walker.
“Bridlington is a fairly remote place which is why it has three engines in the first place.
“It may not affect the response times for the first and second engines but it is the back up that will reduce if there is a major incident or more than one fire.
“It is a cut to front line services and that will invariably put the public at more risk, as well as the firefighters who will have reduced backup.”
Mr Sanders said: “Residents will not really notice a great drop in service if one engine was removed from Bridlington.
“We are committed to retaining a high quality response in the town, but as incidents have dropped by 26%, we have to ask ourselves if it is right that we still have the same number of engines when we are dealing with less incidents.
“Of course it is too easy to say ‘incidents are down, so we don’t need as many engines’ and we have sophisticated systems in place to ensure that there will always be cover at Bridlington, as at all our stations.
“I think our staff recognise that we don’t have much choice when it comes to making savings enforced by the Government, so although we do lobby to support our case. I would say that they grudgingly accept the changes.”
Mr Sanders confirmed that there would be no compulsory redundancies as part of the plans, but that some retained firefighter roles would not be filled when staff left.
He explained that two engines are sent to a fire call. Currently Bridlington has a third retained engine in case of a further call, but Mr Sanders said that the service’s systems would immediately mobilise an engine from another station to cover the Bridlington in case of a further call out in the town.
The majority of the area covered by Bridlington is considered ‘low risk’ by Humberside Fire and Rescue Service and as such requires a 20 minute response standard, while the centre of Bridlington is ‘medium risk’ and requires a 12 minute response standard.
On average across the force area, the first fire engine arrives within the response standard on over 96% of occasions, against a target of 90% the second fire engine arrives within 5 minutes of the first on over 91% of occasions, against a target of 80%.
There are 46% fewer fire engine mobilisations than there were 10 years ago and on average, at any one time, two fire stations are attending incidents and 29 fire stations are not.
Mr Sanders continued: “We have done a lot of safety and prevention work in areas that we have identified as vulnerable, including Bridlington, and we have also been able to engage with businesses to improve fire safety and awareness and as such we have seen a big drop in the number of fires.”
Only one station along the east coast would lose an engine as part of the plans. Other areas of the Humberside service would also lose engines as they attempt to shave £5m from their £48m annual budget in the next four years.
The public are urged to have their say during an engagement process before a formal consultation process begins in September. Any prospective change would not come in until April 2014.