MORE than 30,000 residents in north York could have to wait up to 14 MINUTES longer for a fire engine to get to their homes if full-time firefighters are axed at a city fire station, a union leader claims.

Steve Howley, of the FBU, says every second counts in a fire, but communities such as Huntington, Haxby, Wigginton, Strensall, New Earswick and parts of Rawcliffe will face significant delays in receiving help if full-time crews are replaced by part-timers at Huntington station, as is being proposed by North Yorkshire's Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner Zoe Metcalfe.

He said North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service had argued that the change would lead to a 3m 46sec increase in response times but, after analysing data on call-outs from the station in 2020, the FBU believed this figure was misleading.

He said the analysis showed part-time firefighters at Huntington taking up to 16 minutes to attend the fire station and mobilise to incidents, with an average mobilisation time of 7:59 seconds.

Full-time firefighters would take only a couple of minutes to mobilise.

"Our members do not believe that NYFRS are being transparent with the City of York taxpayers with their quoted delay in attendance of 3m:47s," he said.

“Over 31,000 residents will see an average increase in attendance times of 8 minutes and data reveals that delays of up to 16 minutes can be expected."

He said the delays were not the fault of part-time crews, as the station - situated on the York Outer Ring Road - was not in a location which allowed for the recruitment of staff living within a 5 minute drive.

He claimed that this problem was clearly identified seven years ago and was the reason why a fulltime unit was placed at Huntington.

"Due to difficulties recruiting part time staff for Huntington fire station, NYFRS have extended the time in which staff are able to respond to 10 minutes," he claimed.

He also said that when the fire service made the case in 2011 for the closure of the fire station in Clifford Street, it had argued that not relocating a fire engine to Huntington would see a worse service for 31,000 residents.

Mr Howley said York council taxpayers contributed more than 25 per cent of the service's locally raised revenue, which was enough to cover the costs of all of the stations and staff. "It’s not robbing Peter to pay Paul, it's robbing York to prop up a mismanaged Fire and Rescue service," he claimed.

He urged residents to respond to a public consultation on the proposals by the commissioner and urged her to accept the offer of a meeting with the Home Secretary, Rachael Maskell MP and the FBU to discuss a sensible way forward, adding: "There is still time to put a stop to this madness.”


York Press: The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner's response to the FBU's claims:

ZOE Metcalfe said there had been a comprehensive review of risk across the region with the intention of ensuring there were the 'right people in the right place at the right time with the right equipment to keep everyone safe and protect all our communities.'

North Yorkshire's Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner said Huntington Fire Station would change from having two fire engines to a single fire engine crewed by on-call firefighters, an operating model widely used at many locations.

She said Huntington was classified as a ‘low risk’ area and this had been verified by looking at incident data and demand over the past five years.

“Under our proposals we would keep a small number of full-time firefighters at Huntington to supplement the on-call crew and assist with the recruitment of these team members until such a time we are confident the on-call crewing is both resilient and sustainable," she said.

She said it was correct to say every second counted when responding but it was vital the right resources were sent to each incident.

"We manage our resources on a county-wide basis and individual fire stations and firefighters do not operate independently," she said.

She added that the York area was covered by two other full-time stations, and on-call fire engines at York and Acomb also covered the Huntington area.

"Our plan also includes a focus on and investment in prevention, something which our firefighters already spend a lot of time on. This is one of the most important measures we can take to protect people and places from ever needing an emergency response.

“As part of the ongoing consultation on the proposed changes we are regularly talking to our representative bodies, residents and many others across the city and the county. I would encourage everyone to read the proposals in full, and give their views, before I make final decisions.

"The consultation is available at, I will be in Huntington on Friday 8 July for another consultation event, and you can respond and give your views until Sunday 14 August.”