ELLESMERE Port Labour MP Andrew Miller insists lives will not be put at risk by plans to reorganise the area's fire cover.
Cheshire Fire Service's scheme, approved last week, to take away the Port's third full-size fire engine and replace it with a midi-appliance have caused a storm of protest.
Protesters have sent in an 8,000-signature petition and two councillors - Ian Ormerod and Mike McCusker - have quit the Labour Party rather than go along with the move.
Mr Miller has come under fire for supporting the plan.
But this week he hit back by saying: 'A resigning councillor says he has lost confidence in me so I thought it important to re-emphasise the basis on which I came to my conclusion about the reorganisation - not cuts - of the fire and rescue service.
'Just like Cheshire's chief fire officer, Steve McGuirk, I would never vote for something knowing that it would put the lives of constituents at risk.
'At the end of the day, am I to support Mr McGuirk, an acknowledged expert of 29 years' service, or the judgement of people with no expertise such as Cllrs Ormerod and McCusker? The answer is obvious.'
He added: 'The new appliance is judged to be a much better way of dealing with many of the day-to-day incidents and the plans for dealing with a major incident are far more robust.
'We will have shorter call-out times and proper targets for dealing with traffic incidents.
'This plan, put together by the all-party Fire Authority under the leadership of Mr McGuirk, has been backed by the minister, Nick Raynsford, who has confirmed to me in Parliament that safety is paramount.'
Mr Miller cites an exchange in the House of Commons with Mr Raynsford on March 16 in which he asked the minister for assurances none of the changes would have any detrimental impact on his constituents' safety.
Mr Raynsford replied: 'Safety is paramount. The thrust of the Government's policy on reform of the fire service is about saving lives and we will achieve that by more focus on prevention, more community fire safety work and rapid responses to incidents wherever they occur.'
Mr Miller added: 'I hope this helps to put my constituents' minds at rest following the recent scare stories that have been circulating.'