ANDREA McKenna has been appointed to lead a new safety crusade in Calderdale.
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority is determined to keep driving down blaze deaths despite standing to lose around £18million over the next four years due to the massive Government spending cuts.
Councillor McKenna who will oversee the new task force launched to oversee how the authority meets those funding reductions says they are still aiming for a 26 per cent fall in the number of fire fatalities.
“Over the past ten years, our community safety work has helped drive down fire deaths and injuries to an all-time low, reduced fires in commercial property by over 50 per cent and seen a 73 per cent reduction in malicious calls.
“But if we don’t want to see those achievements crumble because of financial pressures we have to radically overhaul how we work,” she said. “Our diminishing resources must be targeted at those at greatest risk so that, whenever possible, fire can be prevented in the first place or tackled effectively by having the right crews and equipment, in the right place, at the right time.
“In future, services must be tailored to clearly identified risks within the community or to firefighter safety rather than just to geographical location.
“That might mean firefighters from a comparatively quiet station helping a busy station deliver its home fire safety checks or specialist officers working alongside other agencies to help frail or elderly people who may be particularly vulnerable.”
She said the new ways of working are aimed at ensuring that by 2015 there will be a 24 per cent cut in accidental house fires and a 20 per cent reduction in arson.
Chair of the fire authority Coun David Ridgway said that the brigade couldn’t avoid major structural change but neither could it afford to make community or firefighter safety a victim of that change. “We can, at least in part, shape out destiny and continue to keep West Yorkshire as one of the country’s foremost fire and rescue service,” he said. “That’s why Andrea’s new Community Safety Committee has been given wide ranging powers to interrogate operational planning and performance.”