FIRE stations at Holmfirth and Skelmanthorpe are to become part-time under new Government proposals unveiled today.
The changes are suggested in a draft modernisation programme for the country's fire service, the so-called Integrated Risk Management Plan.
And now the public are being invited to have their say on all the changes proposed for West Yorkshire.
Currently, the two Kirklees stations are staffed by full-time firefighters during the day and part-time crews overnight.
In 2002, Holmfirth dealt with 466 calls while Skelmanthorpe dealt with 252. The busiest retained station at Featherstone near Wakefield dealt with 671 calls. `Retained' means the station is not staffed all the time but the crews live and work within minutes of the fire station to answer call-outs.
The draft report states both stations find it difficult to recruit new staff and ensure their appliances are always available.
It argues the introduction of retained crews round-the-clock would ensure the appliances were available more of the time and that firefighters could be deployed in more high-risk areas identified under the plan.
But Clr Ken Sims, of Holmfirth, foresaw the switch to part-time operations as a step towards the axing of both stations.
"Part-time firemen can't always respond as quickly as when you have regular crews.
"Eight or nine years ago they took a tender off Holmfirth and it's all a sign in my mind that they are going to try and close it."
He said the Holme Valley was prospering, attracting more residents and thus needed to preserve its level of fire cover.
West Yorkshire's chief fire officer Phil Toase said the plan would replace the traditional and outdated approach to providing emergency cover.
"The new framework gives a much higher priority to the protection of life and will mean that we no longer have to provide services around national standards that were set in the 1930s and were primarily intended to safeguard property."
Clr Harry Fox, chairman of the West Yorkshire Fire Authority, said: "There must now be an opportunity for local people and organisations to make their views known and help shape our fire and rescue service for the 21st century."
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