More than 34,000 people back Sunderland fire station campaign – now engine is set to go

Sunderland fire station rally.
Sunderland fire station rally.
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More than 34,000 people backed the campaign to save Sunderland Central Fire Station.

It was in October 2013 that the Echo revealed the Railway Row site had been earmarked for closure.

Read more: Plan to axe Sunderland city centre fire engine – just months after station was saved
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service unveiled plans to cut 131 jobs in a bid to save about £8million, including trimming more than £5million from front-line budgets

Chief Fire Officer Tom Capeling said: “The one thing that the authority wanted to do was always protect the front line.

“But unfortunately, we are now in a position where we can no longer protect the response that we provide to the public.

“At the moment, we have 30 fire engines that are available 24/7, 365.

“What we are saying is we can no longer afford that option.

“The amount and level of reduction in our finances over the next three years are simply too much for us to maintain this level of response 24/7.”

The authority outlined three options:

1. Introducing four small ‘targeted response appliances’ (TRAs) staffed by two firefighters, to attend lower-risk incidents such as rubbish and derelict property fires; axing six fire engines altogether and standing two down for up to 12 hours a night at quieter stations; crewing all fire stations with one fire appliance by four firefighters, rather than five, and reducing the number of aerial ladder platforms from three to two.

2. As option 1, plus: replacing Wallsend and Gosforth Stations with one around the Benton area and increasing the number of community fire stations with two appliances.

3: As option 1 or 2, plus: closing Sunderland Central and increasing the number of community fire stations with two fire appliances.

The proposal sparked opposition from union officials and politicians.

Fire Brigade Union North East regional secretary Dave Turner said: “These are the most devastating cuts in the service’s history, and will mean firefighters and the public will be at far greater risk if these cuts go ahead”.

Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott, whose constituency covers the station, said:“It also means that areas of Tyne and Wear will be left without cover for extended periods, again increasing the risk to both the public and firefighters alike”.

Today’s announcement sees the fire authority continuing to implement option one and cutting two fire appliances.