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Anglesey fears over ‘nightmare situation’ if Beaumaris Fire Station closes

Beaumaris Fire Station in Anglesey

A COUNCIL has expressed fears over a “threat to life” if proposals to shut a fire station get the go-ahead.

Anglesey Council expressed concerns over a “nightmare situation” if North Wales Fire and Rescue Service decided to shut Beaumaris Fire Station.

The fire service is currently consulting on a shake-up of emergency cover in North Wales.

Three options have been put forward by the fire service as it looks to improve emergency cover in rural areas in Corwen, Dolgellau and Porthmadog.

One option would see full-time firefighters put on duty during the day in Corwen, Dolgellau and Porthmadog, with no job losses, but would lead to every North Wales household paying £20.36 more than they do now.

A second option would be the same as above, but with one of three fire engines based in Wrexham taken away, with 22 firefighter jobs lost in order to make savings of around £1.1m.

With this option, each household would pay £16.63 more.

The final option would be the same as option two, but with the closures of Llanberis, Beaumaris, Abersoch, Cerrigydrudion and Conwy fire stations, with the loss of 36 full-time firefighters and 38 on-call firefighters.

This option would see taxpayers pay £12.22 more than now.

On Tuesday, Anglesey Council’s executive discussed their response to the review, with fears over how the potential closure of the fire station at Beaumaris would affect responses to fires.

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Worries over emergency vehicles unable to cross the Menai and Britannia bridges due to high winds, congestion and resilience issues, road closures between Beaumaris and Menai Bridge and dependency on mainland fire stations, were all considered.

At the meeting, a draft response report noted: “Option three includes the closure of one of the island’s retained stations in Beaumaris.

Our view is that the closure or non-availability of a resource would result in taking longer for the next nearest resource to attend an emergency.

“The next nearest response would not necessarily be coming from neighbouring stations, they may not be available due to crewing deficiencies or being required elsewhere.

“In the case of Beaumaris, the next station to respond is Menai Bridge, which has only been available 26% of the time.”

Option three was also “the only one” detailing a reduction of 2,087 households to receive a response within 20 minutes – whilst options one and two noted an increase of 2,148 and 321 respectively.

“The closure of the Beaumaris Station would reduce the number of households in Anglesey receiving a response in 20 minutes by 670 households, a reduction from 78.4% to 76%,” the report said.

“With the nearest day crewed station to Beaumaris being over the Menai in Bangor, Gwynedd, it is, in our view a reduced service which enhances threat to life.

“The congestion and lack of resilience for the Menai crossings is of significant concern.”

Dependency on Bangor Fire Station raised “serious concerns”.

Vehicles that could access the Menai Suspension Bridge were up to 7.5 tonnes, and speed restrictions of 30mph were noted.

“Along with the lack of enhanced safety facilities, such as hard shoulders, it contributes to poor resilience with regards to emergency vehicles,” the report said.

The Britannia Bridge was also “vulnerable to closures due to wind incidents and accidents”.

The report added: “During particularly high winds, gusts above 70mph, the bridge is fully closed – with no possible diversion route for vehicles.”

Seiriol ward councillors welcomed the response.

Cllr Gary Pritchard said: “I’m glad the council in response is against closing Beaumaris Fire Station.

“More than anything, option three is not acceptable, and does not protect emergency services on the front line.

“We’ve talked about the resilience of the bridges.

“Closing Beaumaris station would mean the east of Anglesey being too dependent on services from the mainland, and adds to response times.”

Cllr Carwyn Jones said he, Cllr Pritchard and Cllr Alun Roberts had attended a consultation session in Beaumaris where there was a “great concern” and “strong opinions” by residents and fire officers.

“The message is, we can’t let this close,” he said.

“We only need to see what happened last week, with the high winds when the B5109 at Glyn Garth was closed for over 24 hours.

“It happens several times a year, in that corner of Anglesey, in the case of a fire you would have no hope.

“There would be serious consequences.

“I’d hate to think what might happen if there was a fire at the care homes at Haulfre and Plas Penmon, Beaumaris or Llangoed schools, or residents’ houses, it would be a nightmare situation. Closing Beaumaris fire station would increase risks significantly.”