FIRE chiefs have answered claims that Ellesmere Port could lose one of its fire engines.
Cheshire Fire Service's deputy chief fire officer Chris Turnock has said the town will not see any reduction in fire vehicles or personnel under planned changes to firefighters' shifts.
He hit out at speculation that Ellesmere Port Fire Station would be severely affected by the service's Integrated Risk Management Plan.
In April the Wellington Road station will be one of the first in Cheshire to pilot the shift pattern changes, which will be fully introduced in September.
Mr Turnock said: 'Nothing is being axed. Ellesmere Port will still have the same number of fire vehicles, the same level of fire crews and same level of response to emergencies.'
He added: 'We will redeploy some firefighters in Ellesmere Port into community safety work in the town so, in fact, the public will see more fire crews out and about.
'But if residents walk past the fire station in a year's time, they won't notice any difference. These changes are internal.
'We want to include our crews in these changes. Their new duty systems will be more effective.'
Derek Dickson, fire station commander in the Port, said he wouldn't support moves that put lives at risk.
Concerns were initially raised when fire crews were told of the plans on Thursday night.
Some feared they could have a knock-on effect on the station's three-engine status.
Speaking on their behalf, Cheshire's Fire Brigade Union secretary Dave Williams said: 'Ellesmere Port is a Category A risk area where, by law, two fire engines must respond in five minutes and a third in eight minutes.
'But the Government has removed this statutory requirement now which means Cheshire could, if it wanted, cut the number of engines in Ellesmere Port down from three to two.
'We believe it is a dangerous proposition to reduce fire cover anywhere and we'd see the axing of the third engine in the Port as affecting the emergency cover for the community and businesses in the town.'
Fearing for the future of the Port's third engine, Cllr Ian Ormerod (Lab, Strawberry Fields) said: 'If this proposal was to ever go ahead, it could have a really detrimental effect.
'We cannot afford to lose that third engine. If we did, it could potentially be life-threatening. How would two appliances for the whole of Ellesmere Port cope?'
He wants Mr Turnock to discuss the changes with the borough council.