MORE than 20,000 people are believed to have signed a petition opposing plans that could see drastic changes to fire service provision in South Derbyshire.
The Derbyshire Fire Brigades Union (FBU) will be handing over a petition to the Fire Authority to oppose cuts in the fire service tomorrow after drumming up a groundswell of support from members of the public.
The petition opposes cuts that could include the closure of Melbourne Fire Station and major changes at Swadlincote Fire Station.
Derbyshire FBU Brigade Secretary Chris Tapp said: “The petition shows that people are against the cutting of 16 fire engines and 11 fire stations and many changes for firefighters.
“We are still confirming numbers of signatures but believe it to be 20,000.
“Generally speaking, the public in Derbyshire oppose these plans.
They don’t want to see a worse fire service being delivered.”
The plans are part of a proposed major reorganisation of the fire service in a bid to save at least £4.4 million by 2017.
The service also wants to cut 78 firefighter posts – although it has pledged to do this by not replacing staff who leave or retire, rather than making redundancies.
If the plans are approved, a total of 19 fire stations across the county would be closed and eight new stations – merging some of the existing services – would be created.
This would take the total number of fire stations down from 31 to 20.
Chief fire officer and chief executive Sean Frayne said: “We have developed a number of proposals to form a new emergency response model for the provision of fire and rescue services within our county, which proposes to alter the location and number of our fire stations, emergency response vehicles and staffing.
“We have also developed proposals to review our service provision in relation to home fire safety checks, youth engagement schemes, fire cadets, fire safety protection audits, incidents we attend and level of resources we send and the recovery of costs.
“We would very much appreciate the views of the public on our proposals in order to inform our final plans.”
More information on the consultation is available by visiting www.derbys-fire.gov.uk