Fire Brigades Union

FIREFIGHTERS are likely to vote on industrial action against a plan that includes one of Woking’s fire engines being unavailable for night-time emergency calls.

A firefighter tackles a housefire

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is furious at a reorganisation that will see seven engines at full-time stations across the county without crews from 6pm to 9am.

The plan, called Making Surrey Safer, was unanimously approved by the county council’s cabinet on Tuesday last week, despite huge opposition from firefighters and a petition signed by more than 11,000 people.

It will mean Surrey Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) will nominally have 23 front-line fire engines on call overnight throughout the week, instead of the current 30.

Claims that the brigade already does not have enough frontline and control room staff to provide safe emergency cover had led the FBU to launch a trade dispute before the cabinet meeting.

The union has given the service until Monday to address its concerns, or it will hold an industrial action ballot.

For the full story get the 3 October 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