Closure of Leeds fire station ‘will lead to more deaths’

Moortown fire station and Cookridge fire station are due to close, to be replaced by a single base at Weetwood
Moortown fire station and Cookridge fire station are due to close, to be replaced by a single base at Weetwood
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A campaign has been launched to save a Leeds fire station from closure amid fears the move will put lives in jeopardy.

Moortown fire station is earmarked to shut along with the station at Cookridge, to be replaced by a single base that has yet to be built in Weetwood.

The closures are part of an overhaul of fire service provision in Leeds, which includes several station closures and the loss of a number of fire engines.

Paul Drinkwater, a firefighter of 22 years based at Moortown and West Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union chairman, has started a ‘Save Moortown Fire Station’ campaign on Facebook which has won support from nearly 800 people.

He said: “If we reduce the provision and increase the length of time to get to incidents, inevitably it will lead to more fire deaths. It can’t do anything else.

“All the other work in terms of preventing fires is also going to suffer because we just won’t have the resources.”

According to West Yorkshire Fire Service statistics, the number of incidents attended by Moortown firefighters has almost halved in the last ten years, from 1,269 in 2005 to 677 last year.

Cookridge crews attended 454 last year, down from 758 in 2005.

But figures also suggest that the number of rescues West Yorkshire crews are having to carry out is on the rise.

It is expected they will have performed 784 by the end of this year – higher than the average of 738 for the last three years – although in Leeds the number is expected to remain static.

Mr Drinkwater said: “The problem is that most people don’t realise what the impact of the cuts is and how it could affect them.”

Deputy chief fire officer Steve Beckley said the planned cuts were a result of reductions in government funding and a significant fall in the number of deaths and injuries in fires.

He said they will eventually result in the closure of 16 stations and the construction of eight new stations “to provide optimum emergency cover, focusing on areas of highest risk”.

Mr Beckley said: “In the last 12 months new fire stations have opened in South Kirby, Rastrick, Rothwell, Dewsbury and Killingbeck, with more planned for Ossett, Shipley and finally, Weetwood. Negotiations have been under way for some time with a land owner to procure a suitable site in Weetwood and we hope to commence construction of the new fire station in the next 12 to 18 months.”