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In defence of Porthcawl and Kenfig Hill Fire Stations

This is an article for the Glamorgan Gazette

Earlier this month I attended a rally outside the fire station in Porthcawl attended by several hundred residents who are concerned that plans by the Fire and Rescue Authority to move the facility outside the town and co-locate it with the Kenfig Hill Fire station at a new station in Cornelly, will compromise their safety.

This is not just a simple re-location as the number of appliances in the new station will be half those currently available. In my view both Kenfig Hill and Porthcawl will face an increased risk to residents and visitors as a result of these plans.

Accordingly I have written to the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service opposing their proposal in the strongest terms.

The computer modelling on which the plan for Porthcawl is based uses figures of 7,000 residences and 16,000 people. These figures account for permanent residents as they are at present. However, they do not take any account of the numbers of holidaymakers who visit Porthcawl, nor do they take account of housing and other developments proposed for the area.

For example, Trecco Bay is the largest caravan park in Europe, has 1,800 static homes, and can have up to 10,000 people on site during the holiday season. Although this facility is perfectly safe, accidents can happen so it is imperative that help reaches the area as soon as possible.

In addition, planning permission has been granted for 1,300 new homes on Salt Lake and Sandy Bay. That is no small development and will have a significant impact on the town.

South Wales Fire Service says that the new station will be able to provide an average response time of seven minutes to an emergency in Porthcawl. I find this difficult to accept, given that this is a retained fire station.

At certain times of the year firefighters will have to travel to the station, and then get from the station to the emergency when the town's population will not only have been swelled by the numbers of holidaymakers, but also by the considerable number of day-visitors, the vast majority of whom will have come by car. That is why I am opposing this closure.

Kenfig Hill Fire Station serves the Pyle, Kenfig Hill, Cefn Cribbwr, Cornelly, and Kenfig Pool area also with a population of approximately 16,000 and covers an area of approximately 10 square miles.

Before I could support changes to the coverage for that area I would need to be convinced that safety was not being compromised. I understand that the emphasis for fire safety is now being placed on prevention but that is not good enough if something goes wrong and a fire tender fails to get there on time.

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