FIREFIGHTERS will take longer to respond to house fires and major blazes when Chester loses one of its two fire engines, it is claimed.
Cheshire Fire Authority needs to save £1.7m and has begun implementing major changes to the frontline emergency response service.
One of the fire engines from Chester Fire Station will be relocated to a new fire station that will be built near the M53 and M56 interchange.
Ellesmere Port Fire Station will also see one of its two fire engines relocated to the new interchange.
But Dave Williams, secretary of Cheshire Fire Brigade Union, has concerns that response times will be affected and said the changes would increase waiting times for back up fire engines.
He said: “It is spreading the fire cover a little thinner because it’s a fire engine out of Chester and one out of Ellesmere Port and putting them in between.
“There are some pluses because of access to the motorway but the impact in Chester and Ellesmere Port is that it is taking resources away from the population.
“On the face of it there will be more areas that one fire engine will get to within 10 minutes but the downside of that is that most house fires, to control the incident, we need a minimum of two engines.
“The service may look like we are achieving first response within 10 minutes but the actual impact is that the second engine will take longer and firefighters will be waiting longer for that back up.”
Cllr Alex Tate, who represents Lache on CWaC, is a member of Cheshire Fire Authority.
She says the changes were designed to help save lives despite cuts to the services.
Cllr Tate said: “We have looked at this very carefully and we have asked how we can improve the service and the way we can do that is by moving fire services in the area.
“By putting engines in this area we will be able to offer a much better service but with fewer fire engines. It will be a much more efficient service.
“People are wary when engines are taken away but the way we have worked it out is that the engines won’t get there later and it will improve times to more places.”
Fire service spokesman Sian Corrigan said the aim of the plans was to improve service. She said: “The plan to develop a new fire station close to the M53 and M56 motorways is part of a comprehensive plan to improve response times across Cheshire.
“The exact location of the new station between Chester and Ellesmere Port is yet to be determined but it’s important to stress the aim is to improve the way we respond not just to incidents on the motorway network but also to the communities of Ellesmere Port and Chester. “