Plans to close 10 West Midlands fire stations and replace some of them with new buildings in different locations will enable crews to reach emergency incidents more quickly, the politician responsible for pushing through the controversial proposal claimed last night.
Coun Peter Howard, chairman of the West Midlands Fire Authority, described the rationalisation scheme which will see the closed buildings replaced by eight new stations as ‘ambitious and far-reaching’.
Coun Howard, who represents Sutton Coldfield on Birmingham City Council, was speaking after petitions containing 3,600 signatures opposing the closures were presented at a council meeting by Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors.
Under the proposals, fire stations in Birmingham at Aston, Billesley, Hay Mills, Ward End, and Sheldon would close along with Canley in Coventry, Smethwick, Halesowen, Cradley Heath and Wednesbury.
New stations would be built at Aston, Hall Green, Shard End, Chelmsley Wood, Stechford, Canley, Halesowen and Wood Green.
The number of fire engines retained by the authority will remain the same, but some will be moved to different locations.
The scheme has caused tensions among Birmingham City Council’s ruling Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.
Several of the threatened Birmingham fire stations are in Liberal Democrat wards.
Coun Howard added: “West Midlands Fire Service has carried out an ambitious and far-reaching study of how our emergency cover could be provided in the future.
“This study looked at improving the locations of fire stations in order to provide an even better service to the communities of the West Midlands.
“The changes identified would improve the response times that our fire engines take to reach emergency incidents.
“Improving attendance times helps to reduce the impact of any incident and assists in reducing fire-related deaths.”