Plans to turn a York fire station from a full-time to an on-call station should be scrapped if call-out response times increase, city councillors have said.
A full-time fire engine is to be removed from Huntington fire station under plans approved last month by North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) Zoe Metcalfe.
The decision, which was made despite cross-party opposition in York, has gone down like “a cup of cold sick”, according to Rawcliffe and Clifton Without councillor Darryl Smalley.
The majority of people consulted by Ms Metcalfe were also opposed to the ‘risk and resource model’ proposals in York.
Acomb and York fire stations will remain 24-hour operations.
The PFCC has promised an ongoing review of call-out response times, but members of the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Panel questioned whether this was enough.
Independent member Martin Walker said the review process seemed “woolly and imprecise”.
“Response times are core to public concern,” he added. “If that response time goes from ten minutes to 20 minutes the lives and property are at risk.
“This does look like a move that’s been made due to financial constraints and that the best model was the one that was in place.”
Cllr Smalley asked Ms Metcalfe if the decision was money-driven and what would happen if response times increased.
She responded “My role is to make sure this service is fit for the future. These decisions are based on evidence and data…
“What it did say is that in Huntington the risk wasn’t there to warrant whole-time firefighters.
“Even if we had millions of pounds in the bank, I would still carry forward these proposals.”
‘Every minute matters’
Ms Metcalfe said that response times were scrutinised every month at her public accountability meeting.
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s chief fire officer Jonathan Dyson said that while response times were “critical”, they were not the “strategic driver” for the service, because reducing risk and prevention work was a better use of resources.
“We do measure and monitor consistently all the performance of crews including on-call and whole-time appliances,” he added.
Similar proposals are also being implemented in Scarborough and Harrogate.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Smalley said: “The option for scrapping the plan must be left on the table if the response times increase and put our communities at risk.
“We know that every single minute matters in an emergency, so any plan that makes our firefighter’s job more difficult is dangerous.”
Cllr Keith Aspden, council leader and vice-chair of the police, fire and crime panel, added: “York residents and the council are clear in our condemnation of these plans.
“We will continue to voice our strongest opposition and serious concerns over plans which would directly impact the safety of our communities.”