When news happens, text KENEWS and your photos and videos to 80360. Or contact us by email or phone.
Campaign launched to save Kendal's second fire engine
A CAMPAIGN opposing plans to strip Kendal of one of its two fire engines has been launched.
Under cost-cutting proposals by Cumbria County Council (CCC), Kendal would be one of five towns in the county to have its fire appliances halved – a move which campaigners call ‘a life-threatening mistake’.
A Facebook page called ‘Save Kendal’s Fire Appliance from the Cuts’ has notched up more than 700 likes, while concerned firefighters have called for ‘decisions that save lives not money’.
A statement on the campaign page said: “Fires don’t happen every day but when they do, they don’t wait for the firefighters to arrive before becoming vicious and out-of-control.
“Having to wait for the second appliance to come from further afield could cost lives.”
As well as halving the appliances for Kendal, Workington, Whitehaven, Maryport and Penrith, the proposals, which are designed to save £540,000 a year, would see Dalton losing its fire station altogether and one of Barrow’s two engines being moved to Ulverston.
Kendal currently has two fire engines, one of which is manned from 8am to 8pm by four full-time firefighters and by retained firefighters from 8pm to 8am.
The second appliance is manned 24/7 by a retained crew – trained firefighters who only attend the station in an emergency callout.
Campaign organisers say that, with over 28,000 people living in Kendal and more new homes on the way, losing the second engine would compromise the safety of both the public and the firefighters manning the first fire engine. Brigade chair of the Fire Brigades Union in Cumbria Dave Burn also expressed concerns that the loss of appliances would have a knock-on effect on jobs for retained firefighters.
“There’s nothing in the proposals to suggest jobs are at risk but we’re worried that that could be a part of the cuts that is hidden,” he said.
One firefighter, who did not wish to be named, said leaving just one engine in towns affected by the proposals would ‘leave a crew of four to cover a huge area’ and estimated it would increase turnout times from five to 20 minutes.
“Around 90 per cent of fires are accidental and it’s the ones in the middle of the night I’m worried about – you don’t get many but one fire death is a fire death too many as far as I’m concerned.”
The county council said that the risk of fires had decreased significantly across Cumbria over five years as resources have been targeted at prevention.
A Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said there would be ‘support’ from stations at Staveley, Milnthorpe and Windermere – which ‘have very good availability and have an average response time into the Kendal area of 15 minutes’.
Campaigners are urging people to voice their concerns online at www.cumbria.gov.uk/ budgetconsultation/shareyour views.asp.
Comments are closed on this article.