Plans that would see on-call Chobham firefighters drive four miles to Woking before setting off to emergencies have been branded “ridiculous”

Chobham Fire Station is one of three in the county that Surrey County Council (SCC) have plans to upgrade and modernise to allow it to accommodate larger emergency vehicles.  

While work is carried out the current plan is for volunteer firefighters to drive to Woking Fire Station in order to pick up emergency vehicles and attend emergencies. 

These plans will cause “unacceptable delays” according to resident Rob Searle, who has started a petition on SCC’s website calling for the plan to be reconsidered. 

Mr Searle suggests establishing a temporary station at Chobham Adventure Farm, just metres from the existing site. He said: “It’s ridiculous to expect a Chobham part-time firefighter to drive to Woking to pick up their fire engine when they get a call out.

“When the current station was being built we operated out of a cabin for months and it worked well. Chobham Adventure Farm has offered space to operate from there but Surrey has said no. Instead they want to base it from Woking.

“Imagine if there is a fire in Chobham, they have to drive to Woking. They are obliged to use their own vehicles, they have no blue lights, and they are obliged to keep to speed limits.”

According to Mr Searle, the renovation of Chobham Fire Station, along with Lingfield and Reigate stations, was due to start in the spring, but has been pushed back by planning issues. 

The council said it did not expect the changes to impact target response times. A spokesperson for Surrey Fire and Rescue Service said that the decision to relocate the Chobham engines was based on a “considerable project of work” that established the most viable location with the least impact on communities and staff. 

They argue that since Chobham is an on-call volunteer station and only available nights and weekends, incidents there already require a response from neighbouring fire stations too.

They added: “Whilst we were offered the use of some land and other suggestions for temporary arrangements, these premises and solutions unfortunately did not meet the complex requirements needed.

The plans are currently available to view at the fire station
The plans are currently available to view at the fire station (Credit: Chris Caulfield) (Chris Caulfield)

“As ever, keeping our communities safe remains our top priority and this change sits within our response standard.

“Chobham is an on-call Fire Station- available at nights and weekends only, meaning that it’s already the case that incidents that occur in Chobham are not only attended by the Chobham-based fire appliance but by neighbouring appliances too.

“We will always send the most appropriate appliance at the right time, and the nearest available resources will always respond to an emergency incident.

“Using our highly accurate modelling software the projected response times are well within our 10-minute target response time to critical incidents, and 16-minute target response time to other emergencies.

“We thank residents and businesses for their interest in our work during the consultation period and we will continue to engage with the community as this redevelopment and arrangement continues.”