LIVES and property could be at risk if proposed cuts to the fire service covering Somerset are approved, according to a county MP.

Ian Liddell-Grainger, whose Bridgwater and West Somerset constituency could see some major changes under the plans - announced by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue - including the closure of Porlock Fire Station.

And Mr Liddell-Grainger said the proposals would see fire cover 'stretched dangerously thin', with fire cover for Porlock and surrrounding areas coming from Minehead, six miles away.

“The Minehead station has to provide cover not only for residents but for a very large holiday centre which is the equivalent of a small town,” he said.

“A major incident involving both Minehead appliances would leave nothing to cover Porlock, which is an unthinkable situation.

“I know many of the service’s problems relate to the difficulty of recruiting enough retained firefighters, particularly in areas such as Porlock where there are relatively small working populations

“The fact remains that you cannot play around with statistics to justify cuts of the order that are now being proposed without putting property and lives at risk.

“When the two fire services were merged we were promised this would be the start of a whole new deal for fire cover in the two counties.

READ MORE: Stations could be axed as fire service announces plans for 'biggest change in 50 years'

“The reality is that we now not only have outdated fire stations – some over 50 years old – we have appliances that are more than 20 years old and now we are faced with damaging cuts right across the spectrum of operations.

“The service is a complete shambles. We cannot allow any further reductions in cover, particularly when they come dressed up in terms such as ‘changing the way we operate’.

“In this case change will be for the worse and at the cost of leaving the public at even greater risk than they currently are.”

Somerset County Gazette:

ANGER: Bridgwater and West Somerset MP, Ian Liddell-Grainger

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) also reacted with fury over the plans.

James Leslie, FBU Devon and Somerset brigade secretary, said: “Devon and Somerset firefighters are furious with these proposals.

"The plans would undeniably compromise public safety across both counties.

“Despite promises from senior management to protect frontline services, full-time fire cover and jobs have been slashed since the combination in 2007 which created DSFRS.

"Now the service appears to have given up on vital retained fire cover.

“We demand that the fire authority rejects these proposals.

"The FBU will not tolerate these dangerous plans and we plan to mobilise against them.”

An emergency meeting of Devon and Somerset FBU is planned for Friday, June 28.

The proposals will be considered by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority next week.