Night-time fire cover cut

October 14, 2019 3:54 PM
By Cllr Will Forster

Surrey Council cuts night-time fire cover

Will Forster by Woking Fire Station
The Lib Dems have criticised Surrey County Council's recent decision to take seven fire engines off duty at night, including one in Woking.

Last month, the Council's ruling Cabinet approved a 'Making Surrey Safer Plan 2020-2023', which outlines how the County Council wants to change the fire and rescue service. The plan controversially includes reducing the number of fire engines avaliable at night.

Every fire station which currently has two or more fire engines would see its resources cut back at night, while three fire stations would close completely. Woking Fire Station, along with stations in Camberley and Guildford would all see the number of available fire engines reduced, as would the new fire station in Spelthorne.

In response to the proposed night-time service cuts, a petition signed by 13,000 people was presented to Full Council last week, asking the Council to reconsider cutting the fire service at night. Although the Lib Dems and other opposition Councillors supported the petition, the Conservative majority did not - so the petitioner's pleas were rejected.

Lib Dem County Councillor, Will Forster, said:

"The Lib Dem Group at County Hall are concerned that the fire service was recently declared inadequate by Inspectors, and that the service is still seriously short of trained firefighters as a result of previous cuts and a recruitment freeze. We believe the current plan to cut night time cover will unacceptably affect response times - any change to the fire and rescue service agreed by the Council should not reduce response times."

"The Lib Dems and I are further worried that the issue of the number of crew on each appliance continues to be a matter of concern for firefighters. Because there are four not five crew on each appliance, even if an appliance reaches an incident within the required response times, they cannot use breathing apparatus or tackle the fire with all their equipment until another appliance arrives, bringing the extra firefighter. The Council's recent consultation did not address this issue, which still remains a matter of concern for firefighters, and therefore for residents."

"I think the County Council needs to restore the confidence of both firefighters and residents by reversing the night-time cuts, properly staffing each fire engine and securing a 'good' judgement from the Inspectors."