PRIMARY school pupils and Eden’s older residents are making their voices heard as opposition grows to the proposed removal of an engine from Penrith’s fire station.
Youngsters at the town’s North Lakes School received a presentation about the controversial county council proposal during lesson time from on-call firefighter Dawn Coates. Her visit coincided with a writing project introduced by teacher Miss Chris Rollings, who is encouraging year five and six pupils to make their views known.
Almost 100 letters have been penned and these are being sent to Dalton-based Barry Doughty, the county council cabinet member for safer and stronger communities. “They are asking that councillors think carefully before they make a decision about the second pump being withdrawn,” said Chris. “We have got some firefighters’ children here. The response has been good and the children have been quite horrified. They think it is outrageous that this is going to happen. “We have tried not to be political. Children just tell the truth. They are very honest and speak from the heart, and their reaction is that it is outrageous and shocking. It is not a sensible decision.”
Declan, a 10-year-old year six pupil, has a relative who works for the fire service near London. Declan said of the county council plan: “I think it is pretty outrageous. It is very stupid that they have spent £6 million on a new station but a year on they want to take the second pump away.”
Nathan, also aged 10 and in year six, said: “I think it is stupid. If there is a motorway collision they need three fire engines.”
Nine-year-old Megan, whose father, Mark, is a retained firefighter, said she and her friends were writing letters in a bid to save the under-threat engine. Megan wondered what would happen if there was a large fire in Penrith and the second engine had been taken away.
Taylor, an 11-year-old year six pupil, said Dawn’s talk had been “interesting”. “If they do take away a fire engine in Penrith there could be massive consequences; there could be lives at stake,” he said.
North Lakes School headteacher Mike Pincombe said: “Obviously we think it is a very important local issue, with lives and jobs at stake. I think it is really important that we talk about it as a community. We are not trying to make the children’s minds up for them. It is a live and current issue and something they have opinions about. “It is valuable to do it, just like a couple of years ago we looked at the campaign to save the cinema, which was successful and has made a real difference to services in the town. This is just the same, with the added factor that it is of life-saving importance.”
Dawn said: “It was a real pleasure to be invited into North Lakes School and speak with the school council. I was absolutely amazed at their understanding of the role of the on-call firefighter and their knowledge of the fire service and its role in the community.