OPPOSITION councillors called for Rotherham’s second night-time fire pump to be reinstated after a favourable shift of £2 million in the fire service budget.
Cllr Rob Elliott of UKIP said the ruling Labour group should now be calling for the resource to be brought back — as they promised seven months ago.
Labour amended a UKIP motion to say Rotherham Borough Council would support the second engine being reinstated when resources allowed.
Cllr Elliott said: “Recently published accounts show a further £2.1 million was made available to the general fund.
“When will the second pump be reinstated, ensuring the ongoing safety to residents though the night?
“Recently, during the night, the fire brigade were required to support the police due to lack of police manpower in a search and find exercise.
“This left Rotherham with no cover available whatsoever. The fire appliance was brought from Dearne station, leaving Dearne with no cover.
“Is it going to take a major incident such as Grenfell before it’s realised that the second pump must be reinstated?”
UKIP group leader Cllr Allen Cowles added: “The amendment posted by Labour to our earlier motion was that they would instigate the reinstatement of the second appliance when funding became available.
“Clearly the funding is now available, thus what we heard at last week’s council meeting was a load of bull and further excuses. The funding is available so why is the second pump not reinstated immediately?”
The fire service said it had to factor in budget implications from its cost-cutting “close proximity crewing” staff model being ruled unlawful in court in May.
New staff are needed to bring crews to an acceptable and safe number, following the Fire Brigade Union’s high court victory.
Labour’s Cllr Alan Atkin, an RMBC member of South Yorkshire Fire Authority, said: “The problem is that it’s an extra 60 firefighters.
“We can’t pluck 60 firefighters out of the air and if we could do so, presuming they start at age 20, with a pension facility of 40 years, it actually costs about £1.6 million for one firefighter, so our reserves would not last long.”
Close proximity crewing meant some firefighters could work 96 hours on continuous duty, spending nights at their station.
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