A FIRE chief says call-out times will lengthen once Brighouse Fire Station closes – but the service will turn to high technology to help speed up responses.
The town’s fire station is set to close along with that in neighbouring Elland and a new station at Rastrick will open in place of them.
Andy Crowther, station commander for Brighouse and Elland, said: “We don’t have planning permission yet for the Rastrick station, but if and when we get it we’ll use what’s called a ‘hurry call’ button.
“When we have a call and know we’ll need to go through the lights at the Sun Inn we can press the button and the lights will go green in our favour. They will still have to go through the process, we can’t just shut them off and have cars all over the place, but it will be in our favour.
“We’ll also have a ‘green wave’ which is being trialled in Leeds. Some buses have them and it’s a sensor on the vehicles to turn the lights green as we approach.
“We’ll be keeping up with technology advances to help us.”
But a resident at the Brighouse Ward Forum said the station’s closure was “putting lives at risk in the future” and that “call-out times would increase because there’s more traffic on the roads.”
Brighouse ward councillor Colin Stout said plans for a new M62 junction at Rastrick made it the perfect place for a new fire station.
Station commander Crowther said increasing traffic on the roads made the firefighters’ job harder.
“It is an issue nationally with increased attendance times and it relates to ambulances too,” he said.
“Increased traffic volumes do contribute to increased call out times.”
He told the Brighouse resident: “All I can say is ‘you’re right’ and it will be wrong of me to tell you anything else.”
He said the closure of Brighouse and Elland fire station was due to Government budget cuts.
“We are in the same boat as everyone else in the public sector,” he added. “We simply cannot afford to continue as we are. In the next four years we are losing 20% of the operational staff – the guys and girls who sit on the fire engines.
“We’ve had to make backroom staff compulsory redundant. We can’t have fire stations with no-one in them.
“With Rastrick we’ll have a fully manned station in the middle of two towns and pick up a bit of Huddersfield – Sheepridge and those areas where Huddersfield can’t get to as quickly as we could.”
He said that parts of Brighouse could be covered by Cleckheaton and parts of Hipperholme by Halifax if the new Rastrick station were out on a call.
The planning application for the new station will go before Calderdale councillors on January 8.