Four suspended from fire crew
Halifax Evening Courier 20th January 2006
FOUR part-time firemen have been suspended from Hebden Bridge station and an inquiry is under way into alleged irregularities.
Full-time firefighters have had to be drafted into the town to ensure there is adequate cover in the upper Calder Valley.
A spokeswoman for West Yorkshire Fire Service confirmed the suspensions but added: "I cannot say why at this stage, because a disciplinary investigation is being conducted."
She said temporary arrangements had been put in place to ensure the continuity of cover and that included full-time firefighters being sent to Hebden Bridge.
The chairman of West Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union, Nick Sutcliffe, said he could not comment.
It is believed the investigation stems from allegations that fire engines have been turning out to jobs with only three firemen, when there should be at least four. The retained firemen receive payment for every call-out.
Stephen Baines, Calderdale Council's representative on West Yorkshire Fire Authority, said: "The fire service has acted intelligently to ensure there is sufficient coverage in the Calder Valley, which was the priority."
But Alan Brooks, chairman of Royd Regeneration, said: "The crew in Hebden Bridge has been under great pressure recently to turn out to jobs and to turn out in a certain time.
"They are being asked to deliver goods which they cannot always deliver."
West Yorkshire Fire Service recently announced its decision to shut the retained station in Mytholmroyd.
Retained fire crews are not full-time employees and often work in other jobs. Retained crews can be called out at any time and must live or work within a mile of the fire station.
Mytholmroyd fire station is due to close in April, which will leave only a retained crew in Hebden Bridge.
Todmorden station is staffed by full-time firefighters between 6pm and 9am.
The decision to shut Mytholmroyd retained station caused anger in the Calder Valley and 1,850 objections were received by the fire authority.
In December it voted to close Mytholmroyd station but keep Hebden Bridge, although it pledged to look for a better site.
Hebden Bridge was favoured as the one to remain open because the town had a higher risk of house fires.