CHARD Fire Station could be set to lose its second fire engine during the night under controversial proposed cuts by the Devon and Somerset service.

A number of fire stations could also be set to close after plans for the ‘most significant change for 50 years’ were published by the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.

The proposals, aimed at boosting fire service coverage in areas where it is most needed, could see a number of stations shut, fire engines lost, and services cut.

At risk stations Colyton, Porlock and Woolacombe, with Yeovil, Taunton, Bridgwater and Martock all at risk of losing an engine.

Some stations attend only a handful of fires each year and have more resources than they need while elsewhere, more resources are needed to improve the response, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has claimed.

However, the Fire Brigades Union is furious with the plans.

James Leslie, FBU Devon and Somerset brigade secretary, said: “The plans would undeniably compromise public safety across both counties.

“Despite promises from senior management to protect frontline services, full-time fire cover and jobs have been slashed since the combination in 2007 which created DSFRS.

“Now the service appears to have given up on vital retained fire cover. We demand that the fire authority rejects these proposals.

“The FBU will not tolerate these dangerous plans and we plan to mobilise against them.”

A public consultation is currently underway, and is set to run until September 20.

A fire service spokesman said: “The proposals seek to address these issues and also create more flexibility and capability to deliver targeted prevention and protection work to reach the most vulnerable members of society and help keep them safe.

“The risk has changed in the service area with new housing developments and new road networks in place but most of our fire stations are in the same place they were 50 years ago.

“We need to ensure our fire stations and fire engines are located to be in the right place to meet the demand.”

“Risk and our activity has reduced in some areas and increased in other areas.

“The service therefore needs to ensure we are as effective as it can be with the resources available within the context of a shrinking budget.”

The fire service is currently considering six options for saving money.

Option 1 includes plans to shut eight fire stations - none of them in South Somerset.

Option 2 has the same closures, with the service at Yeovil, Taunton, Bridgwater and Torquay being cut from three pumps to two.

Option 3 has all of Option 2, plus a reduction from two pumps to one at Martock, Crediton, Lynton, and Totnes.

Option 4 would see all those same changes, but the night crews would purely be on an ‘on-call’ basis at Barnstaple, Exmouth and Paignton.

Option 5 is where Chard comes in. As well as all the changes in Option 4, this choice would see a 14 fire station with two pumps move to having one full time pump. The second pump will be manned in the day, and subject to an ‘oon-call’ crew at night.

These stations are Brixham, Chard, Dartmouth, Frome, Honiton, Ilfracombe, Okehampton, Sidmouth, Tavistock, Teignmouth, Tiverton, Wellington, Wells and Williton.

The final option includes all the cuts laid out above, with a six extra fire engines deployed to areas of high risk on six days a week.

Lee Howell is the chief fire officer at Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.

He said: “We all know that the main way to save lives is to prevent fires from happening in the first place.

“As a service, we have made great progress but we feel we can and should be doing more to make people and buildings safer.

“At the same time, we need to improve our ability to respond to emergencies and ensure we better match our resources to our risks.

“These proposals aim to do just that.

“We do understand that communities affected by these changes will want more information and we will be engaging with them in the coming months to listen to their views.

“This will also be a difficult time for the staff affected and we are committed to working with them to consider how we might provide options as we move forward.”