A petition has been launched to save what fire fighters say is vital water rescue equipment being cut from stations in Chippenham and Trowbridge - to move it to Swindon and Dorset.

More than 250 people have already signed it, fearing the cuts will affect rescue operations in the River Avon area which has some of the biggest flood risks in Wiltshire.

The petition claims that members of the public will have to wait an hour to be rescued safely instead of eight minutes in the River Avon area because of the decision.

“This will put the lives at risk of people caught in flooding,” said Becky Montague who started the petition, and hopes to get 500 signatures to send to Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Authority to reverse the move.

"Removing equipment and training from the firefighters means that they will respond but be unable to rescue people quickly and with the right tools."

The petition claims fire chief Ben Ansell wants to remove ALL specialist technical rescue equipment and training from Wiltshire Firefighters and move it to Dorset, and Stratton in Swindon.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed a review had been taking place since mid 2019, to look at risk and demand across the whole service area. At the time, it said:

“Whilst technical rescue is not a funded statutory duty for the Fire and Rescue Service, we recognise the importance of having this capability.

“This review will look to enhance, not diminish, our capability, allowing us a more strategic approach to the positioning of the key elements of technical rescue - which will also add greater resilience by aligning the way in which all stations operate interchangeably."

But petitioners disagree saying there is no flood risk in Swindon like there is in the Chippenham, Bradford-on-Avon and Trowbridge areas. Wiltshire residents have responded to the call.

“I don’t agree with the withdrawal of this vital service for not only Chippenham, but the surrounding villages and towns, said Brieley Hart from Chippenham on signing the petition.

“The investment in the equipment, coupled with the commitment and training of the firefighters is a fundamental asset to our region. With the planners approving an exponential growth of the town, now is NOT the time to reduce emergency cover of any kind.”

“We are on a flood plain, where there is also a lot of housing being built - which will exacerbate local flooding, even without any further climate change,” added Hilary Slater.

“ We cannot afford for these services to be moved further away.”

Summerham and Seend Wiltshire councillor Jonathon Seed, who is also running for the Police and Crime Commissioner post, has pledged to take the case up with MPs saying the decision is 'outrageous' claiming residents in Wiltshire had not been consulted by the Dorset run service.