THE firefighters’ union has warned proposals to close stations and cut hundreds of jobs would cost people their lives.
Ossett Fire Station could close and up to 200 jobs could go under new proposals announced by West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue last week.
And union bosses say the plans, which would save £8m a year, are “irresponsible” and a threat to safety.
Acting Fire Brigade Union brigade secretary Dave Williams said: “To propose a further raft of station closures and the loss of more frontline emergency firefighters is irresponsible beyond belief.
“Firefighters are members of these communities too and they know the impact these proposals will make if they are approved.”
If the proposals are approved on Friday a new station, nearer to Wakefield, would be opened to replace the current Dale Street station in Ossett.
Rothwell Fire Station would also close and be merged with Garforth at a new station between the two towns.
Mr Williams added: “Closing two fire stations and then building a new one to cover both station grounds means that fire crews will face longer journeys to arrive at emergency incidents, and longer response times will cost lives.
“We’ve already seen a significant increase in attendance times for the first appliance arriving from 5 minutes 41 seconds to at least 7 minutes.”
Chief fire officer Simon Pilling said further budget cuts from the government were likely by 2020, and that changes to the service had to be made.
He also said that the proposals would improve response time in some areas.
He said: “Doing nothing is not an option, as my inability to recruit would eventually leave fire stations as glorified garages with unstaffed vehicles and equipment.”