Leeds Bradford Airport fire lifeline placed on cuts hit-list

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A fire station which is first to respond to incidents at Leeds Bradford International Airport is facing closure because of Government cuts.

Rawdon fire station and a part-time station at Otley will close with the loss of 23 jobs under proposals to West Yorkshire Fire Authority. A new station is planned at Menston to replace the two.

Rawdon turns out automatically in the event of any incident at the aiport to back up the airport’s own firefighters.

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A fire service source at Rawdon said: “We are the first there. We attend whenever there is an alarm there for whatever reason - say if an under-carriage wheel does not come down.”

Rawdon is a full-time fire station staffed 24 hours a day.

Otley has retained firefighters who are on call at home or from other jobs.

A spokesman for West Yorkshire Fire Service said the proposals will go to the authority on December 16 after public consultations end on December 9. He said construction of a new station in Menston would improve call-out times to Burley-in-Wharfedale and Otley, and maintain call-out times to Rawdon.

He said Rawdon and Otley were both classed as “very low risk areas.”

Ten of West Yorkshire’s 48 fire stations face closure due to Government cuts. They will be replaced by five new ones, but the fire authority has accepted there will be longer journey times to some incidents.

Other closures include Gipton and Stanks in east Leeds, Dewsbury and Batley, and Hemsworth and South Emsall.

The number of West Yorkshire firefighters is expected to be cut from 1,450 to 1,150 by 2015, and the service will lose a number of appliances.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) says the closures will mean increased risk to lives and homes, businesses and workplaces.

Yorkshire FBU Regional Secretary Pete Smith said: “There will be a greater risk to life, to homes, businesses and workplaces. We’ll have fewer stations, fewer frontline crews and fewer appliances spread more thinly.

“These cuts are the worst we have ever seen and come on the back of already serious cuts to the service in recent years. Make no mistake they are a threat to the safety of the public and firefighters.”