FIRE crews from Redditch are repeatedly being called to deal with incidents in neighbouring Studley new figures have revealed.
There have been 16 occasions when Redditch firefighters have had to provide cover following Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service’s decision to shut the village’s Bell Lane station in October 2012 in favour of upgrading nearby Alcester to a full-time crew. Four of those incidents occurred in October last year alone.
The figures, revealed through a Freedom of Information request by the Labour Party, have renewed fears about the safety of WFRS’s proposals to downgrade Alcester to a part-time station, active between 10am and 10pm.
Outside of those times cover will come from Stratford, Henley, Bidford or Redditch but there are also concerns about how much support the borough will be able to offer as Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service is planning to reduce the number of engines at Redditch from three to two.
It has also been revealed WFRS has spent £637,000 improving Alcester only to downgrade it 19 months later.
Prof Jeff Kenner, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Stratford-on-Avon, accused fire chiefs of ‘sheer incompetence’ and of failing to plan to protect homes and businesses in Alcester and Studley in the long-term.
Andrew Foster, Labour’s candidate for Alcester Ward in next week’s district council elections, added: “Recent early morning fires have been dealt with swiftly by Alcester based fire-fighters. In future, residents and businesses could expect a longer response from fire crews based further afield with potentially disastrous consequences. It is time for these ill-thought our proposals to be dropped.”
A spokesman for WFRS was unable to respond before the Standard went to press but the service has previously stated in all but the most extreme circumstances, a fire engine would reach an incident within ten minutes 80 per cent of the time and a second appliance within 15 minutes in both urban and rural areas.
A spokeswoman for Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service said fire cover in Warwickshire was a matter for that service but added: “The proposed change to remove one on-call fire engine from Redditch Fire Station would have a very minimal impact on our ability to reach incidents in good time. We would still have one full time fire engine and one on-call fire engine available to respond to calls.
“The proposal would see Redditch station operating on a similar basis to two other busy fire stations in North Worcestershire – Kidderminster and Bromsgrove.”