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Four fire engines at risk in £1.6m saving plans
FOUR fire engines could be cut in plans to save £1.6 million.
West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service announced a series of changes in cost-cutting measures for 2015/16.
The proposals would see secondary engines removed from Storrington, Petworth and Midhurst and a third appliance taken away from Crawley.
Plans to upgrade Littlehampton fire station to a 24-hour service have also been mooted.
The fire service said the plans would see all stations remain open and there would be no loss of “immediate response fire engines”.
Shift changes are also proposed at Shoreham, Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath and East Grinstead stations, leading to the loss of 10 firefighters.
Unions warned that the cuts were just the beginning, with “a lot more to follow” in later years.
They added that the loss of the fire engines would not have a huge effect on performance, as secondary appliances are already redun- dant because “poorly-paid” retained fire- fighter roles were not attracting recruits.
Fire Brigade Union (FBU) officials also claim that the county’s team of 350 permanent firefighters will be reduced by a tenth through natural wastage in the coming months.
Union figures said that the impact of staffing changes was yet to be seen.
The proposals would also see a further £220,000 spent on flooding equipment, while cost savings were being sought in management and administrative roles.
FBU West Sussex secretary Francis Bishop said that despite politicians’ claims that the number of calls the service received had reduced significantly in recent years, there were not that many fewer fires and the fires they attended were “still just as hot”.
Chief Fire Officer Sean Ruth said: “The number of emergency calls we receive has fallen and the types of incident we respond to has changed. We need to adapt our service to reflect this.”
The draft proposals will be considered by West Sussex County Council’s environment and community services select committee next Wednesday.
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