Backlash at station plan

Ossett fire station
Ossett fire station

FIRE chiefs came face-to-face with public outrage over cost-cutting plans to close Ossett Fire Station.

Worried residents, firefighters and union bosses packed into Ossett Community Centre on Monday to hear plans to close the Dale Street station and build a new one in the Flanshaw area.

They were told the move, which would help to save West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service up to £12m, would increase response times in Ossett by an average of more than three minutes.

Wakefield Fire Station would also lose one of its two engines if the plans are approved in December.

John Iveson, brigade organiser for the Fire Brigade Union (FBU), said: “Firefighters are worried about the amount of time it’d take for a second engine to arrive at a fire. Their safety is at risk.

“We don’t want this to happen to the community. MPs and councillors need to go back to government and request increased funding.”

Currently, Ossett has some of the quickest fire cover in the county due to the location of the station. And Wakefield district commander Martin Langan told the meeting it would still get a good service if the changes were approved.

He said Ossett was a low-risk area for fires and that the changes would improve cover in areas of higher risk.

Mr Langan said: “We have to try and do the most for the most people with less resources. This will provide support for Wakefield but also very good cover for Ossett.”

The proposals, set to be introduced in 2016, include the loss of 200 firefighter posts in West Yorkshire.

Chief Fire Officer Simon Pilling said last month that the service was set to lose up to £30m of its budget by 2020.

Firefighters and FBU representatives will protest against the plans on Wakefield Cathedral precinct tomorrow from 11am.