Sussex Fire Service plans deep cuts - our Green councillors protest

10 July 2020



Press Release, 30 June 2020

The end for the fire service as we know it?  

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) consultation process has ended. But the debate goes on. Wealden Green Party is deeply concerned about the way the consultation was designed, calling it “little more than a cost saving exercise”. 

The first question asked if respondents agree that the Service should change from 15 immediately available fire engines to 18 engines. What it didn’t ask is: “Do you agree with reducing the number of fire engines available at 10 stations from 2 engines to 1 engine?” ie a loss of 10 potentially available engines.

In a letter to the Chief Fire Officer, Green Cllrs Keith Obbard and Patricia Patterson-Vanegas predict a degraded service, in some instances “close to negligent”. The planned loss of fire engines in Crowborough, Uckfield (and many other stations), which could provide cover when the main engine is called out, could put particularly hospitals or care homes at increased risk. 

Planned timetable changes, they suggest, will lengthen response times at weekends and in the night, and leave less experienced crews to deal with emergencies. These are not lower risk times and therefore danger to life and property would be increased. They also mean worse working conditions for firefighters’ families, who will find it impossible to plan ahead for child care and schooling commitments.

The “dual-crewing” of the Aerial Ladder Platforms (ALP) at Eastbourne and Hastings could potentially leave only 1 fully crewed ALP to cover the whole of East Sussex, which would be unsafe.

Obbard and Patterson-Vanegas say “Covid-19 should have taught us all not to be complacent in planning for emergencies. The Fire Service should be planning for a ‘worst case scenario’”, not simply the minimum number of engines and crews that could deal with past incidents.

Image (c) East Sussex Fire and Rescue