Fire chiefs preparing to decide on plans for the future of Hebburn Fire Station have been warned about the potential impacts of downgrading it.
The Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority is expected to agree a raft of cost-cutting measures when it meet on Monday If agreed, the station, in Victoria Road West, would be manned by a part-time crew.
These crews would only be in place during the day, meaning evening cover would be provided by firefighters based in South Shields.
Hebburn Councillor John McCabe says members of the fire autority should turn down the plan.
He said: “These crews provide overall health and safety cover, not just for people in Hebburn but for the whole of South Tyneside and Gateshead.
“I regard any reduction in health and safety provision as of paramount importance. To my mind, it’s common sense – if you have more of a resource you can do more.
“I understand, and it is important to underline, that it is not the fire service who want to make these cuts.
“They have to make these cuts because it’s the only resource they’re getting.”
He added: “This should be a wake-up call for the electorate. The country is being run down and it’s all about money.”
The plan has been proposed as part of a package of reforms to save more than £3m.
A similar change is proposed for Wallsend, with Tynemouth expected to pick up the slack.
A heavy rescue appliance based at Hebburn is set to be relocated to South Shields, while another - currently based in Newcastle - is due to move to Washington.
While Coun McCabe opposes reducing the number of firefighters in Hebburn, he still backs plans for a new fire station.
Fire chiefs have earmarked about £5m for the project, but have faced opposition from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), which has said the cash should be redirected to support frontline services.
Coun McCabe added: “I think that is a different argument. The fire service is looking to the future and they need this now to do what they need to do.”
Bosses from the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) have insisted the plans will not have an impact on public safety. A TWFRS spokeswoman said: “If the proposals are agreed we do not believe that the community of Hebburn will receive a reduction in our service.
“While scoping work is still on-going regards a new fire station at Hebburn, the cost just to maintain it is currently estimated to be in the region of £1.5 – 2.5m.
“We contend that some facilities on the current site would not be cost effective to maintain or redevelop.
“We want to make sure our firefighters have the best facilities and equipment to protect the communities they protect.”
James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service