SURREY’S firefighters say their brigade is “on its knees” through staff shortages which make several fire engines unavailable every day across the county.
They are urging people to complain to their county and borough councillors about the dire state of Surrey Fire and Rescue Service.
Fire crews and their union also say councillors must oppose a proposed reorganisation which will take wholetime fire engines out of service during the night shift and at weekends.
The anger of firefighters comes at a time when up to 12 fire engines at wholetime stations are unavailable at the start of each watch, or shift, due to staff shortages.
Stations which are regularly shut due to shortages include Painshill, Walton, Esher and Banstead. The new station at Ashford, Fordbridge – an amalgamation of the now defunct Sunbury and Staines stations – is also suffering staff shortages.
The reasoning behind the proposed reduction in appliances overnight, set out in the Making Surrey Safer plan, is a fall in the number of fires attended by the UK fire service in recent years. Surrey Fire and Rescue Service wants to move more resources into fire prevention duties.
But the FBU says that most deaths in fires occur between 6pm and 9am and is opposing the night-time reduction in cover.
A Woking firefighter commented: “For a few months we have warned of a storm on the horizon. That storm grows ever closer. This was completely foreseeable, but management chose to ignore it.”
“Now is the time for the public to fight for your fire service and oppose these cuts and complain, to your local councillor. The battle is looming, and together as a community we can, and we will win.”
Surrey County Council’s cabinet is due to receive a report on the Making Surrey Safer recommendations following the public consultation. The reorganisation is planned to be implemented in 2020.
For the full story get today’s (29 August) edition of the News & Mail