Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

October 25, 2009 09:19 ET

Cleveland Fire Crews Hit Out at Cuts in One of the Highest Industrial Risk Areas in Western Europe

CLEVELAND, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - Oct. 25, 2009) - Cleveland fire crews have hit out at moves to cut fire crews at Billingham fire station in one of the highest industrial risk areas in the whole of Western Europe. The fire station is at the heart of Teesside's petro-chemical industry.

The area has 37 of the highest accident hazard sites, known as top-tier COMAH sites (Control of Major Accident Hazard sites). There are fuel storage facilities in the vicinity of Billingham fire station with a capacity 100 times greater than the largest storage tank involved at Buncefield.

The fire authority plans to cut one fire engine, reducing the station to a one-pump station, with the loss of 22 frontline firefighting posts. The cut will have a knock-on effect in surrounding areas which rely on crews at Billingham for back up in emergencies. It will also mean appliances from Stockton and Hartlepool fire stations having to spend more time in the Billingham station area, depriving those areas of fire cover.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) says the cut will mean fire fighters taking longer to get to 999 emergencies and a worse service for the people of Cleveland. It is particularly concerned about residents in the Billingham and Clarences area and the occupiers of business premises.

Steve Watson, Cleveland FBU brigade secretary said: "This area has one of the highest industrial risks in the whole of western Europe. There are 37 top-tier major accident hazard sites and some of them dwarf the storage capacity of Buncefield.

"These industries in this area pay national and local taxes and one of the services they get as a business is the fire service. It is one of the most important services for large and small businesses.

"There have been major incidents in this area. If you can justify cuts in one of the highest risk industrial areas in the whole of Western Europe, then nowhere is safe from cuts.

"Cutting a fire engine and firefighters means spreading resources more thinly and that means taking longer to get to 999 incidents. It does have an effect on community safety and on how we respond to industrial incidents.

"It is absurd to claim that cuts in this high-risk area can be described by the authority as 'leading the way in industrial firefighting'. These are not 'efficiency gains', these cuts are very real."

The proposal is subject to a public consultation process which ends on November the 3rd. The FBU would urge as many people as possible to contact your local councillor, your local Fire Authority member or the Chief Fire Officer at Endeavour House, Stockton Road, Hartlepool to express your concerns.

Contact Information

  • Fire Brigades Union
    Steve Watson
    07827 300061