FEARS have been raised that urban areas would be put at risk by plans to revamp Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Emergency vehicles would be more evenly distributed across the county to reduce response times in rural areas, if the proposals go-ahead.
For Rugby this would mean cutting night cover to just one appliance next year – with plans for an additional ‘on-call’ engine from 2016 although not yet confirmed.
There would be two based there between 10am and 10pm.
But the station’s crews are already under pressure from demands to help out at incidents over the Leicestershire and Northamptonshire borders where are large distribution centres, more so since the closure of Brinklow station back in 2011.
The service overhaul would save £2.4 million over the next four years but the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) have warned the new model could put town centres at risk.
Speaking to the Observer, the FBU’s Warwickshire spokesman, Marcus Giles, said: “Response times are going to be longer in town centres, that is clear. You need a minimum of eight firefighters immediately on scene to deal with a fire, and two whole-time fire appliances in town centres.
“This is putting both the public and firefighters in the town centres in danger to improve rural attendance times.
” I understand there has to be changes because of money, but why is it always the front-end? That is the important part. That is where the public want us.”
Current proposals – subject to an on-going public consultation – outline how £1.3 million of the £2.4 million savings goal could be achieved by 2016.
If approved, stations at Leamington, Stratford and Alcester would also see a reduction in either engine or crew availability.
This would allow for two new response locations at Ryton and Gaydon, both of which would house one appliance.
In total there would be 20 engines available across Warwickshire at all times, with more crews during peak periods.
The aim is for 80 per cent of emergencies to be attended within ten minutes.
Warwickshire County Council’s community safety spokesman, coun Les Caborn, said: “Urban areas will still receive the same weight of response as before.
“In some instances the second and if required the third fire engines will be responding from other locations within the county. However this is no different than we do now in certain circumstances.
“This greater coverage of response is a real improvement on how we currently operate and far more in keeping with the risk that is presented in modern Warwickshire in which the incidence of domestic fires have become less common.
“Road traffic accidents present a far greater risk and this is rightly where we are looking to improve our response times with the new service model.”