New fire station plans given the go ahead

Barry Owen (Former fire fighter) and Mark Faulkner (South Elmsall fire station union) at the proposed site for the new fire station in South Kirkby
Barry Owen (Former fire fighter) and Mark Faulkner (South Elmsall fire station union) at the proposed site for the new fire station in South Kirkby

PLANS for a new fire station in South Kirkby, which is set to replace Hemsworth and South Elmsall stations, have been given the go ahead.

The station will be built just off Avenue Lodeve on South Kirkby Business Park after planning permission was granted on Thursday.

It will serve the whole of the south east district with one full-time frontline fire engine and an additional back-up engine that will be used during peak demand replacing one engine at Hemsworth and one at South Elmsall.

But the plans have met opposition from the community and the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) who say it will double response times.

Barry Owen, 71, of Minsthorpe Lane, South Elmsall served as a firefighter in the area for 30 years.

He said: “I just think it’s wrong. I still think it should be Featherstone that is closing and not South Elmsall or Hemsworth.

“My concern is the call out time if a second incident occurs - and they are more frequent than people think.”

The new station will adopt a Day Crew/Close Call approach which will see the firefighters living at the station for the duration of 96 hour shifts.

Mr Owen added: “When it comes to this contingency plan it’s a bit of a red herring to me.

“They are saying there are certain times of the year when it is busier but the very nature of fire is that you don’t know when it is going to happen.”

“The lads could be on duty for 96 hours at a time so their family life is going to be awful.”

In a statement the FBU said that the plans could see response times almost double to ten minutes across the district.

It also said that the new shift patterns could not be adopted unless firefighters waived their rights under the working time directive, which can only be done on a voluntary basis.

Acting FBU secretary Dave Williams said: “Closing two fire stations and then building a new one to cover both station grounds means that fire crews will face longer journeys to arrive at emergency incidents, and longer response times will cost lives.”

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service did not want to comment on when work would begin on the new site in South Kirkby.