YOU can have your say on the potential downgrading of Huntingdon fire station – and the increased response times it could bring.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service is seeking the opinions of people who live, work or study in and around Huntingdon about plans to change the way the station is crewed.

The results will be presented to the fire authority next February, when it examines a business case outlining the impact of ending Huntingdon’s wholetime firefighter cover.

It is one of the measures suggested as the service – the cheapest in the UK per head of population – looks to make between £4.2million and £6m of cuts to its budget. The lower figure can be achieved without the frontline service deteriorating, but CFRS will need to examine other options if the figure is closer to £6m.

One of the options is to change the crewing at Huntingdon, currently one of the county’s four stations that is manned 24 hours a day.

The first option would see wholetime time firefighters provide cover during the day, with cover at night from retained firefighters – a system known as Day Crewed, which would add up to seven minutes to response times at night.

The second option is for the night cover to come from ‘on-call’ firefighters living on the station site (known as Day Crewed Plus), which adds around 60 seconds to response times. The change to crewing is being considered because of the low number of incidents Huntingdon crews attend at night.

The survey asks respondents to rank the importance of: the quality of response; the speed of response; crewing patterns; having firefighters in the station 24/7; and fire safety education.

Project manager Gary Mitchley said: “While we hope that we won’t need to make any further cuts, we have to plan for the worst-case scenario and as such we are looking in more detail at these options now.”

Kevin Napier, secretary of the Fire Brigades Union in Cambridgeshire, welcomed the move, adding: “The service does concede that any change to the cover at Huntingdon will have a detrimental effect on the front line.”

INFORMATION: See www.cambsfire.gov.uk or write to Gary Mitchley at Huntingdon fire station, Hartford Road, Huntingdon, PE28 3RH by 4pm on November 30.