EAST SUSSEX, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - Sept. 25, 2012) - The Fire Brigades Union has condemned East Sussex Fire Authority's decision to risk public safety by proposing to move towards the downgrading of the Ridge fire station in Hastings.
On 13 September 2012, the East Sussex Fire Authority voted to commence consultation on the proposal to relocate the wholetime appliance and crew from the Ridge to Bohemia Road, Hastings and leave a retained appliance to cover the north east of the town and surrounding rural areas. This appliance has historically only been available 60% of the time.
Simon Herbert, East Sussex FBU brigade chair said: "As well as those outlying communities, it has become apparent under the recent Freedom of Information request that attendance times within some areas of Hastings would also increase. For example those who live in the Malvern Way area can expect average response times to increase from 4.12 minutes to 8.12 minutes. Those living in the Tressel Ward area can expect average response times to increase from 5.39 minutes to 7.33 minutes. Again, no mention of these increases in attendance times was made by service managers."
East Sussex fire and rescue managers have recently completed a risk review of the Hastings area. Managers prided themselves on being open and honest when reporting the review, this was re-iterated during the fire authority meeting by the chief fire officer Des Prichard.
The Fire Brigades Union do not share this view and contest the results of the review and the impact it will have on local communities and households around the area.
The review focused solely on the properties and residents of the immediate station ground that Hastings and the Ridge serve. It made no mention of the outlying communities that would receive a far worse service and increased attendance times from the removal of a wholetime appliance from the Ridge. These communities could see average attendance times increase from 5.32 minutes to 10.50 minutes.
East Sussex fire and rescue service managers state that these attendance times are within the agreed performance standards set by the fire authority of attending life threatening emergencies within 8 minutes on 60% of occasions and in 13 minutes on 90% of occasions. This agreed standard voted on and set by the fire authority is already a far worse standard than a few years ago when the response times were set nationally. Prior to locally set standards residents within the Hastings area would receive one fire appliance with five firefighters within 5 minutes and a further fire appliance with four firefighters within 8 minutes.
Public safety, firefighter safety and damage limitation are dependent on how quickly firefighters can attend and deal with emergencies. This proposal to remove a wholetime appliance from the Ridge will lead to an even greater reduction in service for thousands of residents.
East Sussex FBU is of the opinion that this so called 'risk review' is part of an agenda to make cuts and savings. The FBU believe savings must not be made at the expense of public safety or firefighter safety.
The fire authority is due to vote in December following the consultation period.
The FBU is committed to protecting the public and protecting firefighters.
East Sussex FBU will oppose any reduction in service with all means available.