The new assistant chief at West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service says he's "excited" about the challenge.
Dave Walton previously served with West Midlands Fire Service for 28 years, where he was most recently. He replaces Martyn Redfearn.
“I am excited to have the opportunity to work in West Yorkshire, with what is widely known as a high performing team. It’s a great time of change in the UK fire and rescue service and, while it will be a challenge, it also brings a fantastic opportunity to lead. I have come from a metropolitan brigade similar to West Yorkshire, so I am well versed in what the challenges are. I look forward to learning about the different communities in West Yorkshire and meeting and working with lots of new people.”
Controversial plans to close fire stations across West Yorkshire have been given the go ahead in the face of strong public opposition. But the fire authority say's the changes MUST be implemented to save £7 million spending shorfall. Sarah Clark reports.
Fire Chiefs have reined back on controversial plans to close some fire stations in West Yorkshire after a massive public backlash.
Around 200 firefighters' posts could still go and community leaders fear lives will be placed at risk by the cuts, but some fire stations earmarked for closure now look likely to remain open.
12,037 letters or emails were received objecting to the plans - just seven either supported them or raised no objection.
They were going to close Haworth, but now it's recommended that it be given a reprieve for a max of two years. There were plans to merge Hunslet and Morley fire stations at a two-appliance station between the two.
Now, the recommendation is retain Hunslet and Morley fire stations in their current locations and remove one fire engine from Hunslet.
Also plans to merge Rothwell and Garforth at a one-appliance station between the two - have now been watered down and recommendation is that they retain Rothwell and Garforth fire stations in their current locations.
West Yorkshire Police's Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Steve Beckley says the cuts are necessary in order to meet budget cuts put in place by the Government. He defends the decision to close 21 stations and open just 10 new ones, stating that some response times could be faster.
West Yorkshire fire crews organised a rally and march around Leeds city centre today, Saturday 3rd November, in reaction to proposed budget cuts, which they say will affect their frontline services.
This year's proposed cuts include:
closing 11 fire stations (and building just 5 new ones)
a loss of 12 front line appliances
the loss of 250 operational firefights with another 20 of those being compulsory redundancies.
This is on top of last year's cuts that the fire authority approved which were:
close 10 fire stations (and build just 5 new ones)
get rid of 7 front line appliances, and,
reduce the number of operational firefighters by 135, including 20 redundancies.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union are opposing the plans because they say the changes could cost lives. They say if the latest proposals are approved by the fire authority it will mean that in 12 months they have:
agreed to close 21 fire stations, and replace them with just 10 new ones
taken 19 fire appliances out of action, and
cut 350 firefights from the frontline
"Firefighters are angry because these cuts will double the size of some station grounds which in turn will slow response times. In emergency situations every second counts, a few seconds delay can be the difference between saving a savable life or failing to save it. Small fires will develop into large fires and increase the risk to firefighters there to deal with them."**
– David Williams, West Yorkshire FBU brigade secretary
“Our success has been built on good, old-fashioned commitments to public service and prudent financial management,” he added. “The draft fire cover proposals we released for public consultation earlier this month recognise that we may have to tighten our belts well into the 2020s but we will attempt to do so whilst being open and honest about the possible implications and try to work with our communities to find solutions which are both safe and sustainable."
– Councillor Brian Selby, chairman of the fire authority’s Audit Committee