Plan to axe 11 firefighter jobs

Castleford fire station Beancroft Rd Castleford
Castleford fire station Beancroft Rd Castleford

FIRE chiefs have revealed controversial plans to overhaul shift patterns at Castleford fire station – axing 11 firefighter jobs.

Members of West Yorkshire Fire Authority voted to start internal consultation on a proposal to launch a “close call” rota at the Beancroft Road facility – which would see staff “on call” in a nearby house owned by the service during the night.

In March, the Express reported how a source close to the station, which is currently manned 24 hours a day, feared the new system could leave firefighters “tired” and delay crews responding to calls.

But a report to the authority claimed the plan would “improve efficiencies” and save £280,000 in wages by cutting 11 posts through “planned retirements”.

It added: “This will be done in such a way that ensures that the existing fire engine will continue to be crewed by five firefighters who will still respond to emergencies in less than two minutes from being mobilised.

“Off duty accommodation will be provided close to the fire station, which will enable firefighters to rest during the night but still be able to respond to calls as quickly as they were when they were resting in the fire station.”

The document also revealed the plan will allow West Yorkshire Police to operate from the fire station – which the Express understands could happen when a new divisional police headquarters is built in Normanton.

Castleford councillor Tony Wallis, also a member of the fire authority, said: “I have been assured the plans won’t have any impact on fire cover in the area.

“I have been told consultation is being carried out within the fire service internally because members of public won’t notice any difference.”

A new £2m fire station to serve Pontefract and Knottingley is currently being built on Bondgate in Pontefract.

Plans to build a new fire station to serve Castleford – based in Airedale – have been scrapped and the station will remain on Beancroft Road.

A decision on the new shift patterns will be made in September.