Safety won’t be hit by cuts, chief claims

Buxton Fire station, with one of the pumps, crash tender and water carrier
Buxton Fire station, with one of the pumps, crash tender and water carrier

REMOVING Buxton fire station’s second appliance will not affect response times, a consultation meeting heard this week.

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service (DFRS) are currently consulting on proposals to remove the second appliance from Buxton fire station, leading to the loss of up to five retained or “on-call” firefighters.

The service say the second appliance at Buxton, as well as at three other stations across the county also affected, “appear to contribute very little to fire cover requirements” and a public meeting was held on Monday night to allow local residents to have their say on the plans.

For life-threatening incidents, the first fire appliance should arrive on the scene within ten minutes and the second within 13 minutes, Darryl Longson of DFRS who was responsible for the Emergency Cover Review told the meeting at the University of Derby, Buxton Dome.

However, he said that of the incidents where the second pump had been called to assist, it had only attended seven life-threatening incidents over the last three years.

He added that because of problems attracting and recruiting retained firefighters, the second appliance at Buxton fire station had been unavailable for 75 per cent of 2010, compared to 2008 when it was unavailable for nearly 50 per cent of the year.

Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive Sean Frayne added: “Even if we had the retained crews available 100 per cent of the time, we would still be putting the proposal forward that we don’t need the appliance.

“That is no reflection on the commitment from the individuals. We’ve only got five (retained firefighters) and it is very hard when you need five for a truck because we are basically asking them to be available for 100 per cent of every day.”

If the second appliance was removed from Buxton, cover could come from either Chapel-en-le-Frith or Longnor, whose retained crews could reach Buxton within the target times, Mr Longson said.

Newly-elected councillor Phil Ashmore asked what would happen if there were two incidents happening in the area at the same time.

He was told by Mr Frayne that to have two incidents across the county at the same time was rare but that if that was to happen, if for example, there was a serious incident in Buxton to which Chapel were called to for support and there was then an incident in Chapel at the same time, it would then be decided whether to send the supporting appliance back to Chapel, or whether to call in cover from another area.

Cllr Ashmore replied: “It seems to me that if you withdraw the second appliance, response times to incidents are going to go up and as a result there will be a greater risk to the community and people in the community.”

But Mr Frayne said: “What makes a difference is the time between identifying where there is an incident and the time of the call. Most casualties as a result of fire die in those few short minutes. If we had a fire station on every street corner people would still die.

“If you live round the corner from a fire station you would think you are going to be much safer than someone who lives 15 minutes away but it is all about that early detection of an incident. That is the key.

“If we had more appliances it wouldn’t make a difference,

“Our analysis shows we could have 50 appliances in the county and we would still have the same response.”