14 January 2015
Corby’s MP Andy Sawford led a Parliamentary debate responding to Northamptonshire County Council’s plans to scrap the town’s second fire engine.
He has been a supporter of the campaign since being told that the plans “will mean that if firefighters arrive on the scene of a major fire, they may face a delay of up to 20 minutes before they can enter the building”.
He says: “Corby has had two fire engines and crews for 50 years and now the council is talking about cutting an engine and crew, effectively halving the service. It makes no sense to make these big cuts at a time when Corby is growing very fast with new housing and new industry being located here.”
Mr Sawford told MPs that fire service proposals to replace the engine with a Cobra intervention vehicle – which would only be manned by a two-person crew – had met with huge local opposition. More than 200 people from his constituency had responded to his appeal for input on the council’s plans and he included many of their ideas in his speech.
He said that the potential negative impact of the authority’s county-wide proposals was “all on Corby”, saying: “There are currently two Cobra facilities at Corby. They sit on two proper pumps. Four firefighters man those pumps. We are talking about going down to one proper pump with four firefighters and a van with this equipment on the back of it.
“That is not – the chief fire officer readily acknowledges this – an enhancement of what is available at Corby. It may be that in some other areas of the county there will be some additional service from the seven vehicles. In Corby, however, in my area, there is a clear reduction in the service.”
In reply, minister Penny Mordaunt said: “The authority (Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service) is clear that the new Cobra vehicles will enhance – not compromise, as was suggested – the flexibility of response within Corby and the north of the county.
“It will maintain the current two-appliance capability, and although it will facilitate a reduction in whole-time staff, those reductions will be met only through natural wastage rather than any redundancies.”
Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.