Fire station set to lose engine as ‘disgraceful’ cuts bite service

A plan to cut the number of engines at a South Tyneside fire station will put people’s lives at risk, claims a local councillor.

Hebburn Fire Station

Hebburn Fire Station

Coun John McCabe has branded the move at Hebburn Fire Station – brought on by funding cuts – as a “disgrace.”

Councillor John McCabe.

Councillor John McCabe.

From 6pm on Friday the station will be have only one fire engine to cover the towns of Hebburn and Jarrow.

The appliance will be replaced by a targeted response vehicle – which will respond to less dangerous situations with smaller crews. It is understood the number of firefighters on station will also be cut from eight to five.

A public consultation on the loss of the appliance was carried out by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service ahead of the decision being made.

Coun McCabe for Hebburn South, said: “Hebburn and Jarrow have high-rise blocks, it’s an absolute disgrace from a safety point of view. I’m absolutely horrified by it. At a time when the population in the area is increasing, we shouldn’t be losing an appliance.

The whole thing is tragic and is a consequence of these cuts – it’s unnecessary – and it’s putting the safety of people in Hebburn and Jarrow at risk.Coun John McCabe

“The whole thing is tragic and is a consequence of these cuts. It’s unnecessary and putting the safety of people in the area at risk.”

He added: “If there’s any loss of life through this, I will look to take legal action against the person who has taken this decision.”

The move has also left a number of firefighters concerned for residents.

Hebburn and Jarrow also has the special tender which is turned out for rope rescue, animal rescues and swift water rescues.

One firefighter, who did not want to be named said: “Losing the appliance is going to have a huge impact on the area. If there is an incident in Hebburn or Jarrow we will have to wait for a second appliance to turn up before we can do anything. If the crews are busy in South Shields, it would have to come from another station.

“There will also be one crew on duty, so if the special tender is needed in another area, Hebburn and Jarrow will then be manned by a stand-by crew.”

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Chris Lowther, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said: “The decision to remove one fire appliance at Hebburn Community Fire Station is a part of the final stage of a phased reduction within our fleet from 30 to 24 appliances. This was based on a rigorous analysis of risk, incident patterns and travel times, balancing the risk faced by the community with the resources available.”