CUMBRIA Fire and Rescue Service has defended cost-cutting proposals put forward by the county council as the authority bids to save more than £20m in the next year.

The proposals form part of Cumbria County Council's consultation on its 2014/15 budget and are based on a detailed assessment by the fire service in its draft Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP), which is also being consulted on.

Among the proposals are removing one of the two fire engines currently based in Workington, Whitehaven, Maryport, Penrith and Kendal, relocating one of the two full time fire engines at Barrow to Ulverston and closing Dalton Fire Station.

The IRMP shows that:

• Injuries from fires in the home are at an all-time low; incidents across Cumbria have reduced by 34 per cent in the last six years and fire related injuries by a huge 69 per cent.
• Incidents attended have gone down from over 6,500 in 2007/08 to less than 4,500 in 2012/13.
• CFRS Revenue budget has also been reduced with a six year reduction of almost 10 per cent (£22.295m in 2008/09 to £20.091 in 2013/14).

Ian Cartwright, Deputy Chief Fire Officer, said:

"From a fire and rescue perspective the county is now safer than it has ever been; the chances of being involved in an incident, or suffering an injury if you are, have reduced massively.

"These proposals would continue the fire and rescue service's journey of putting prevention before cure which has led to dramatic reductions in incidents and injuries over the last few years. Some people will no doubt be concerned, but we have conducted a very thorough analysis and we would not be putting these proposals forward if we believed that they would put people at risk. The service has to shape itself to the dangers that actually exist, we have evolved over time and we will continue to do so."

Cllr Barry Doughty, Cabinet Member for Safer and Stronger Communities, said:

"Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service provide an excellent service to local communities and the results of its efforts to make Cumbria safer are there for all to see. The service has always allocated its resources to where the risks are in the county. The proposals today are consistent with that approach. I know people will have concerns, I'd recommend they really look closely at the information in the IRMP and the budget consultation before they reach any conclusions.

"We absolutely welcome feedback from the public on these proposals and look forward to hearing people's views."