Union Warns “Savage Cuts” Will Hit Response Times as Kent Fire Authority Considers Plans to close 8 fire stations
Kent fire crews are warning that response times to fires will get worse if the Fire Authority rubber stamps controversial plans to close eight fires stations. Kent Fire Brigades Union say station closures will increase risk to the public and to firefighters.
Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority make the crucial decision on whether or not to close eight fire stations in Kent at a meeting on 15th February. Halling, St Margaret’s, Horton Kirby, Queenborough, Seal, Rusthall, Sturry and Matfield are all due to be shut as part of a review of fire cover.
The closures will result in an increase in response times, some as much as 4 ½ minutes. Many areas will see an increase to over 10 minutes in the time it takes to get a fire engine. This is above the threshold the KFRS sets as its attendance standard performance target.
During the consultation period a number of concerns from the villages and areas affected by the proposed closures were highlighted, for example:
- Increases in population due to new housing developments
- The geographic isolation of some of the affected areas
- Their close proximity to traffic accident hot spots, and notoriously dangerous roads
The Fire Authority will decide the fate of the eight stations at their meeting on the 15th February held at Service Headquarters, Maidstone
FBU Kent Brigade Secretary, Mark Simmons said:
“It’s incredible that unions, staff, members of the public, councillors and MPs have all stood in opposition to these proposals – yet Kent Fire and Rescue Service is still headlong intent to steamroller these plans through, in spite of revealing that this is not about making notable financial savings.
“To wait an extra 4½ minutes for the arrival of a fire engine is very concerning as fires spread very quickly.. The fire service knows that seconds count, and any increase to response times would have an impact.
“The quicker we can get to an incident the better chance we have of achieving a successful outcome. Fires develop very quickly, and it’s important we get there as soon as possible.
“Fighting fires is dangerous in any circumstances, but tackling a fire that has been left longer to develop creates added risks to firefighters as well as increasing the possibility of fatalities or serious casualties. It also leads to much greater damage to the property be it a home, business or other place of work.
“We’d urge the Fire Authority to look and listen to the responses during the consultation. We’d also urge them to think again about the savage cuts that are being proposed and the effects they will have.”
Mark Simmons 07827 300146
Jenny Impey 07769 249102