Fire Stations (Warwickshire)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:00 pm on 30th June 2010.

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Photo of Chris White Chris White Conservative, Warwick and Leamington 4:00 pm, 30th June 2010

I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention. If the arguments that he is using are not enough, the proposals really fail on the common-sense test. The proposals rightly say that the range of incidents and the types of risks have changed-those things have changed-but the consultation document has not considered the fact that Warwickshire is due to experience an increase in housing and industry. As the economic recovery happens, we still need to look at how we strategically place our fire service provision.

We need a more reliable and faster fire service; but on a common-sense level, how can that be achieved with fewer firefighters and fewer fire engines? Withdrawing a third of the local fleet does not seem to be the best method to increase response times or reliability. The proposals say that we need to increase the training of firefighters, but what good will that do if there are not enough of them to go around? Getting rid of a group of highly skilled retained firefighters will not help to tackle a skills shortage.

Even more unreasonably, the proposals say that retained fire engines suffer from insufficient crewing. Obviously, therefore, the most logical response to a shortage of retained firefighters is not to get rid of retained firefighters. Who in their right mind would apply to become a retained firefighter, sacrificing their time and energy as well as taking enormous personal risks, when they can be got rid of so easily?

Tackling road incidents is the fastest growing area of work for our fire service. Forgive me if I am wrong, but surely it is obvious that responding to that growing area of work requires more fire engines, not fewer. However, having fewer fire engines is exactly what the fire service is proposing. It is seeking to reduce the number of local fire engines by 10, yet it has gone to the great length of hiring a new assistant chief fire officer, which, from my point of view, seems to be a very retrograde step.

I appreciate that our fire service is a key part of the national resilience network and that arguments have been made that a greater focus is needed on that aspect of its work.