Cuts

WOKING’S firefighters are urging the public to sign a petition to halt plans which would see one fire engine with a crew of just four covering the borough at night.

They are also asking people to lobby their councillors and MP as part of a campaign against a reduction in night-time fire service cover across the county.

Local firefighters are worried that proposed cuts will lead to an increase in preventable deaths and injuries

The cuts are detailed in a Surrey Fire and Rescue Service proposal which would see seven whole-time appliances left un-crewed between 7am and 7pm. During this time, 23 engines would be available instead of the current 30.

The reorganisation – called Making Surrey Safer – plans for Woking, Guildford, Camberley and Spelthorne stations to each lose one of their two engines and single-appliance stations Egham, Painshill and Banstead to close completely at night.

The Surrey branch of the Fire Brigades Union is leading the campaign against the cuts, which it says will cause more preventable deaths and injuries and increase the time it takes to get fire crews to incidents.

“There may be fewer house fires than in the past, but 74% of all deaths in fires occur at night, when we need to maintain our cover for that reason alone,” the union’s Woking representative, Graham Whitfield, told the News & Mail.

“We are inviting councillors to come and meet us to find out why we think the cuts will be dangerous, for the public and firefighters.

“We are the troops on the ground and have to deal with members of the public when there is an emergency. If the councillors knew exactly what we do at incidents, then they might change their minds about the cuts.”

He asked the public to visit the station’s Facebook page to find the email addresses of councillors they should lobby and to sign the FBU petition at
https://petitions.surreycc.gov.uk/Fire-Cuts/

For the full story get the 18 April edition of the News & Mail

WOKING Borough Council should make a stronger response to the proposed reduction in cover at the town’s fire station, says a councillor who was once a firefighter.

A firefighter tackles a house fire

Ian Eastwood, a Liberal Democrat member for Goldsworth Park, spoke out against Surrey Fire and Rescue Service’s reorganisation plan at a meeting of the council’s executive committee.

The committee was told that Woking would have two fire engines on call during the day, but only one during evenings and night-time. The same cut would be made at Camberley and Guildford, which send appliances to help if there is a serious incident in the borough.

But Mr Eastwood, who was a part-time firefighter at Chobham for several years, said the night-time cuts could put lives at risk.

“Having just one engine for Woking at night, when we will soon have several tower blocks in the town centre, will not be enough. I know the towers will have sprinkler systems, but if several people need to be rescued from a high-rise fire, it will be very difficult if back-up engines have to come from a distance.”

For the full story get the 4 April edition of the News & Mail

PROPOSED cuts in fire service cover will make Surrey less safe, says the county’s firefighters’ union.

It is alarmed at plans outlined in a public consultation document called Making Surrey Safer, which include reducing Woking to having just one fire engine available at night instead of two around the clock.

A Surrey firefighter tackles a housefire

“It’s a known fact, and particularly in Surrey, that an overwhelming majority of fire deaths occur between the hours of 6pm and 9am,” the secretary of the county’s Fire Brigades Union, Lee Belsten, told the News & Mail.

“Previous reports produced by Surrey Fire and Rescue Service have shown these fire deaths occur in the areas where the pumps are proposed to be removed – Elmbridge, Guildford, Woking and Spelthorne.”

In Chobham, the village’s part-time crew is similarly alarmed by the proposal, which will see their single engine on call only during evenings, nights and weekends.

If implemented, it would mean that at least four of Chobham Fire Station’s firefighters would be made redundant and the station’s fire engine would be available only from 7pm to 7am on weekdays and 24 hours at weekends.

“What is being planned cannot possibly make people safer,” a Chobham firefighter told the News & Mail.

As it faces more cuts to its budget, the fire service is consulting the public on its plan to have fewer fire engines available from 2020.

The public has until May 29 to comment on the proposals, which are set out in a document called Making Surrey Safer. It can be viewed and downloaded from www.surrey-fire.gov.uk.

For the full story get the 7 March edition of the News & Mail