UNION leaders for the fire brigade have warned that fire stations are at risk of closure if spending cuts go ahead.

North Yorkshire could be one of those areas that would stand to lose at least one station if the Government goes ahead with funding cuts in George Osborne’s budget statement on Wednesday (December 5), warns the Fire Brigades Union.

It says 70 stations could close.

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The worst-hit brigades would be in big cities, but station closures are also threatened in Berkshire, Hertfordshire, North Yorkshire, Kent and Dorset, said the FBU.

Officials also reported that scores more fire stations are faced with downgrading, with fewer appliances and firefighters.

Last week a report by the Rural Services Network showed that the funding formula for fire stations was already putting people in rural areas at risk by allocating them roughly two-thirds less than metropolitan ones.

Leading fire officers in North Yorkshire and County Durham said they already have higher costs than urban forces as its population is spread out over a wider area and so more stations are needed.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary said: “People rely on having a fire station near where they live, so that in the event of any emergency, professionally trained and well-equipped firefighters will come to their aid.

“The cuts have now gone so far that dozens of fire stations are threatened with closure, an unprecedented development in the recent history of our fire service.”

He added: “Firefighters have excelled again in recent weeks, dealing with floods as well as fires and all manner of emergencies.

"That’s what people expect from their fire and rescue service and firefighters are very proud to deliver an exceptional level of service. But this government is cutting the service to the point where they are putting lives at risk.”