Confirmed: Harrogate to have just one night time fire engine
Last updated Sep 29, 2022
Zoe Metcalfe

North Yorkshire Police Fire and Crime Commissioner Zoe Metcalfe has today confirmed Harrogate fire station will be reduced to one fire engine at night.

Ms Metcalfe’s decision comes after a three-month consultation that saw the proposal criticised for putting lives at risk.

The move is expected to save £180,000 in the Harrogate district, which will be used to fund fire prevention work, and could see five Harrogate firefighters redeployed to new prevention roles.

The Harrogate changes will be piloted for three years and then could be copied in Scarborough.

Ms Metcalfe, a Conservative who was elected commissioner last year, published her three-year blueprint for fire services in the county in May.

Today’s announcement will also see Huntington full-time fire station reduced to on-call, leaving North Yorkshire with just four full-time fire stations: Harrogate, Scarborough, York and Acomb.

Harrogate Fire Station, Skipton Road.

Change is coming to Harrogate fire station, on Skipton Road.

It follows a consultation that included 12 public events, three resident focus groups and an online survey which received 1,300 responses.

Me Metcalfe said:

“Some areas of the service will change, and I know change can be unsettling, but I remain confident that the right people, with be in the right place, with the right equipment at the right time, to support everyone in North Yorkshire and York.”

“I have made these decisions to support the transformation of our fire and rescue service based on extensive evidence and from listening to what is important to you, which you said was increasing and enhancing prevention and protection work to stop incidents from happening in the first place”

How Harrogate fire service will change

Currently, Harrogate fire station has one fire engine which can respond to all emergencies and a smaller tactical response vehicle. Both operate around the clock.

The smaller vehicle will be replaced by a larger fire engine but it will only be crewed during the day.

Ms Metcalfe’s risk and resource model said more fires occur during daytime, and having two fire engines at Harrogate would provide better daytime protection at key times.

But the second Harrogate appliance won’t be staffed between 10pm and 9am, meaning greater dependence on on-call firefighters in Knaresborough when a second fire engine is required at major incidents.

Jonathan Dyson, who has been selected as chief fire officer.

Jonathan Dyson

Jonathan Dyson, chief fire officer for North Yorkshire, said Ms Metcalfe’s proposals provided the correct strategic approach to resourcing fire risk. The service has a £31.5m annual budget for core spending.

He said:

“Our strong focus on prevention and protection activities are the primary way for us to reduce risk in our communities.”

Mr Dyson told the Stray Ferret second appliances from outside Harrogate were already mobilised to tackle major fires in Harrogate because they were better equipped to do so than the tactical response vehicle.

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But he acknowledged the change could “potentially” cause a delay when the main Harrogate fire engine attended an incident and requested back-up, which would now have to come from Knaresborough rather than Harrogate.

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service does not have target response times and no calculations have been done on how long delays brought about by the changes could be.

Job talks to start with Harrogate firefighters

Asked about the impact on Harrogate firefighters, Mr Dyson said:

“We now start a phased approach to the changes because we now need to discuss and engage with the trade unions, we need to discuss and engage with the crews that are affected by this because people are at the centre of this.

“No current staff or jobs are at jeopardy in any form. We are transitioning resources from response into prevention and protection.

“There are a range of duty systems that can introduced to meet the demand that the service requires under the commissioner’s decision.”

Mr Dyson added today’s overall measures had the “potential” to save £1.5m a year across North Yorkshire by 2025 although the calculation was done before recent high inflation.

He added the decision “isn’t about cuts, it’s about transition of funding from response into prevention” and savings would also be spent on improving on call stations in rural areas.