CUMBRIA County Council’s Cabinet has today decided that proposals for changes to Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service included in the council’s recent budget consultation are to be revised before a draft budget is presented to full council in February.
Over 1,500 people responded to the consultation through the official channels, while others responding via petitions organised by local campaign groups.
Reflecting on that feedback, Cabinet today agreed that: * Proposals for the removal of the second fire engine at Penrith, Workington, Maryport, Kendal and Whitehaven would not take place; * Proposals for the removal of the second fire engine from Barrow and its relocation to Ulverston would take place; * The proposal to close Dalton fire station should proceed but a resilience fire engine for major incidents would be sited in Barrow; • The service’s two aerial ladder platforms (ALPs) would continue to be based in Carlisle and Barrow crewed by staff from Carlisle and Furness.
The revised arrangements for Barrow and the wider Furness peninsula will see Barrow’s second full-time crewed engine relocated to Ulverston, as originally proposed, but with the current Dalton engine relocated to Barrow and designated as a ‘resilience’ pump available to respond to major incidents.
There is no set response time for ‘resilience’ pumps meaning crews could travel into Barrow from elsewhere to staff this pump. This change is linked to the revised arrangements for crewing the Aerial Ladder Platform and comes at no extra cost.
Coun Barry Doughty, Cabinet Member responsible for Cumbria Fire and Rescue service, said: “The fire and rescue service is one of the council’s life or death services, so I’ve not been surprised that our proposals generated a high level of public interest. At a time when we hear so many stories about public apathy, it’s been encouraging to see local people making their voices heard.
“The original consultation proposals to remove the second pump from five stations acknowledged the significant reductions in all incidents across Cumbria in recent years. As well as the evidence though, our job as cabinet members was to make sure public confidence is also taken into account.
“Cabinet has listened carefully to views put forward during the consultation and has concluded, despite the huge impact of the service’s fire prevention work, not to proceed with the changes as originally proposed.
“As a result we have dropped proposals to remove the second pumps from Penrith, Workington, Whitehaven, Kendal and Maryport.
“In relation to the Furness peninsula our revised proposals confirm that cabinet remains convinced that the relocation of one of Barrow’s full-time crewed engines to Ulverston provides for an enhanced level of response in the area.
“However, we have acknowledged the argument that Barrow requires additional resources to be available in exceptional circumstances, hence the proposal to locate a ‘resilience’ pump in the town to provide additional cover in those exceptional circumstances.
“This consultation has generated a huge amount of public feedback and I’d like to commend people on the time and effort they have put in to participating.”
Cabinet’s draft budget will now be voted on at full council on 13 February in Kendal.
Kendal Town Council's Coun Matthew Severn, who represents Fell Ward, said: "It's fantastic news that the county council has listened to the firefighters, local residents and town councillors and agreed to keep the second engine.
"It means that the vital work done by our heroic volunteer firefighters will carry on and local residents can sleep soundly safe in the knowledge there is 24 hour cover based in Kendal."