Union accuses fire chiefs of putting lives in danger by removing appliance from Haworth fire station during strikes (From Keighley News)
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Union accuses fire chiefs of putting lives in danger by removing appliance from Haworth fire station during strikes
9:53am Thursday 17th July 2014 in Keighley
WARNING: David Williams, brigade secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, who says lives have been put at risk
A UNION chief said people's lives were put in danger after Haworth's fire engine was removed for an entire day.
It has emerged that the retained station at Haworth was among eight stations in West Yorkshire that had an engine parked up at fire service headquarters in Birkenshaw on Monday as strike action from firefighters got under way.
Fire chiefs had decided to remove fire engines from the stations for the duration of an eight-day strike period – which would have left Haworth with no fire cover at all.
But, after the plans went ahead on Monday, bosses have now decided to only remove the engines during each period of strikes which are being held every day until next Monday.
This, including travelling time, could still leave the retained station at Haworth without any fire cover for between three and four hours twice a day. The number of fire engines at Bradford station during periods of strike action will be reduced to one.
David Williams, brigade secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: "It is absolutely putting people's lives in danger. There is no sense behind it at all. I am trying desperately to think outside the box as to why the decision was taken.
"It is crazy, I am gobsmacked by it. I don't know what their end game was with this one at all."
Mr Williams continued: "They had seven days notice of the strike action. They had seven days to come up with a contingency plan and that was the best they could come up with – to take eight engines away from the busiest stations.
"Then a day later they decided it was a bad idea. We could have told them that."
He added: "They left Haworth with no fire cover at all. The nearest would have to come from Keighley, but there's only one engine there so that would have left that with no cover."
In response West Yorkshire Assistant Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton said: "We remain confident that the level of fire cover provided across Bradford and Haworth was entirely adequate and in line with our risk assessment.
"Bradford station had one engine operational during the non-strike period on Monday and the second engine was available for immediate redeployment should a major incident have occurred.
"The Haworth area was also covered by Keighley, Bingley, Illingworth, Silsden and Fairweather Green appliances.
"During Monday it became apparent that more staff were available as contingency personnel than originally thought, which allowed for the Haworth and Bradford engines to be returned to station."
The eight-day industrial action has been split into 15 two-hour strikes and is scheduled to finish at 7pm on Monday.
Mr Walton said: “The series of short strikes reflect a change in tactic by the FBU.
“We are dealing with a situation where more than 97 per cent of our staff who would normally ride on a fire engine are unavailable to us during the strike periods. This presents a significant challenge to the delivery of an emergency service. However, by adapting our contingency plans we hope to provide the best possible means of keeping the people of West Yorkshire safe.”
John Huxley, chairman of Haworth Parish Council, said: "It is a very difficult situation."
He added: "We don't believe our community deserves to be left without fire cover. Senior officers in strike situations are left with serious situations to solve – this is obviously one of them."