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Surrey’s Fire Service Plan – Public Safety or Funding Cuts?

December 28, 2010 8:00 PM
County Cllr Colin Taylor

The plans for Surrey's fire service have been strongly criticised by firefighters, says Cllr Colin Taylor

Surrey Fire & Rescue Service's draft "Public Safety Plan" (PSP) is now available for public comment on SCC's website, where a summary version is also available. It has already been criticised both by firefighters and the public. The comment period ends on 4th March 2011.

The PSP aims to concentrate more effort on prevention and on providing a more uniform level of emergency response across the county. However it also aims to reduce the cost of providing this service, hence the problems.

Not all the county's 35 fire engines are available at any one time; it depends upon the numbers of firefighters available. Currently 30 fire engines are available at night and the weekend and 25 during the working week. However the number of incidents is higher during the working week, when traffic makes journey times longer.

The PSP's proposed response target is one fire engine within 10 minutes and a second one within 15 minutes 80% of the time, which it believes can be delivered over almost all the county.

The current response target is one fire engine within 8 minutes and a second one within 12 minutes for 75% of the population, with longer response times currently in rural areas. Public reaction so far has been hostile to any target that only applies 80% of the time.

To meet the new response time targets, the PSP proposes 27 fire engines during the day but only 21 at night. See here for general details of the proposed changes.

The plans include reducing the night-time cover at Epsom from two fire engines to just one. See here for a summary of the changes proposed at Epsom fire station.

It also proposes 5 firefighters on each fire engine - currently there are only 4 at times.

Preliminary public criticism of the proposed plan are included with the full-length version of the consultation document.

A number of criticisms from Firefighters and their representatives have already been circulated to county councillors. See here for a summary of their main objections.