Changes at Crowborough Fire Station

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On Thursday the Fire Authority agreed to go-ahead with the consultation despite the coronavirus situation.

If the proposals are accepted, Crowborough might only have firefighters “on station” for 8.5 hours Monday to Friday and the second fire engine at Crowborough Fire Station will be removed.

The Fire Brigades Union warn the “brutal cuts” will threaten safety.

Matt Wrack, FBU General Secretary, said

This could be the first of many attempts to sneak through cuts to services while the public focuses on the pandemic. If politicians think they are going to make public services pay for this crisis, then they are sadly mistaken.

Chairman of the Fire Authority Cllr Roy Galley said:

It’s very important that we ensure members of the public have their say on any proposals the Fire Authority considers. In these difficult times, we are taking additional steps to make sure the consultation is fair and open. Our independent experts will be contacting hundreds of people by phone to take part in our survey. Thousands more will be contacted by post. We are also holding online focus groups so people can give their views without having to leave their homes.

However you don’t need to be asked to take part, you can complete the online survey today.





Original article: There are wide-reaching proposals designed to provide an effective rescue service across East Sussex and Brighton & Hove within available resources.

Crowborough Fire Station Beacon Road in Crowborough appliance blue lights

Changes at day-crewed stations

Under the Integrated Risk Management Plan firefighter’s contracts at day-crewed fire stations in East Sussex, including Crowborough, could be changed which would mean at times it would take “slightly longer” to respond to emergencies.

At Battle, Bexhill, Crowborough, Lewes, Newhaven, and Uckfield, there are currently two watches of six full-time firefighters, who cover an average of 42 daytime hours per week on-station and remain on-call during evening periods.

Firefighters work a combination of “positive” and “standby” hours over a 24-hour period. Positive hours are worked at the fire station and standby hours are worked on-call from a location within a five minute ‘turn in’ time of the station.

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service are proposing to introduce a ‘day only’ crewing model at these six stations. In this arrangement, full-time firefighters would be on-station during the daytime Monday to Friday (not seven days per week as at present).

The community would still have a 24/7 response, but as the report points-out, it would mean it will take slightly longer to attend emergencies when on-call (“retained”) firefighters are on duty.

Two different crewing patterns are being considered. In one, firefighters would be on-station Monday to Friday for 10.5 hours per day (Monday to Friday). In the other roster system, firefighters would work 8.5 hours per day.

Depending on which system is chosen, between 27 and 33 full-time firefighters would be “released” in total from these six fire stations. A number of options to mitigate the impacts of these staffing changes are being developed and there will be a consultation process with trade unions.

Crowborough Community Fire Station Beacon Road

Removal of second appliance

Another proposal in the Integrated Risk Management Plan [IRMP] that would affect Crowborough is the removal of the second-fire appliance.

Analysis done by the fire service suggests only 24% of calls in 10 fire station areas being affected require more than one appliance.

The appendices to the report give supporting evidence for the changes. The analysis shows that the number of incidents in the Crowborough and Uckfield station areas are lower than the on-call station at Seaford.

If this proposal gets the go-ahead, if a second fire appliance was required at an incident in the Crowborough area, it would come from a neighbouring fire station.

The Fire Brigade Union does not support the changes nor do they think the timing is right for the consultation. Their members believe the proposed changes will produce over-reliance on the retained firefighter system and will negatively impact firefighter and public safety. In correspondence sent to councillors on the Fire Authority they argue it has proved very difficult to recruit and retain “on-call” staff.

Simon Herbert, Chair of the East Sussex FBU, said:

The FBU and our membership do not believe that now is the correct time to be consulting on any IRMP let alone one that sets out such drastic changes to how services are delivered.  We are in the midst of the Covid pandemic. 

Now is not the time to be changing the service.  Post-pandemic, the fire service nationally may change, we are already seeing firefighters take on additional roles including driving ambulances, transporting deceased, testing of sick, and the distribution of PPE.

Plans will also most likely have to be reviewed and changed, due to changes in the roles of firefighters in society.

Fire Authority

Despite the challenges faced as a result of the coronavirus situation, the Chief Fire Officer is recommending an eight-week consultation about the Integrated Risk Management Plan 2020-2025 goes ahead. There would be modifications to the consultation plan operates. Face-to-face meetings with stakeholders and drop-in sessions for the public will be replaced with alternatives, such as telephone surveys and online forums.

There is going to be a virtual meeting of the Fire Authority tomorrow (Thursday 23rd). The Fire Authority has the ultimate responsibility for such things as:

  • Deciding how many fire stations are needed
  • How many firefighters and fire engines there are, and
  • How much money needs to be raised from the Council Tax to pay for the service

The Authority is made up of 18 councillors. The Fire Authority will not be making any decisions on the proposals at this stage. Further detailed work in relation to the impact assessments, planning assumptions, policy implications, delivery timeline and implementation options will be required. This work will be completed and presented to the Fire Authority at its meeting on 3rd September 2020, alongside feedback from the consultation.

If approved at tomorrow’s meeting, the consultation period will run from Friday until 19th June 2020. A dedicated page on their website www.esfrs.org will be updated once the consultation is open, with information about how people can take part.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Whose crazy idea was it to start this consultation period during this unprecedented time in the country’s history?! More stress and worry for our men and women in the Fire service and their families. Just at a time when they are on the front line, as ever, of this crisis. No one knows how life is going to be after all this. It will be different. It is not a time, if at all, to be considering such drastic changes. In the case of of Crowborough and probably other towns on the list the population is growing, more traffic (normally), safeguarding the Ashdown Forest (with one fire engine!!I suspect timing is such that responses may be muted due to everything going on at the moment. PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO READ THE PROPOSALS AND PLEASE WRITE IN SUPPORT OF OUR OF FIRE SERVICE. Remember it’s not that long since there were cuts to the Police Service and we know how badly that worked out, forcing a u turn. Don’t let this happen to the fire service. Remember the word SERVICE. That is what it is and we deserve to keep it. ACT NOW PLEASE. You haven’t got long to let your opinion to be heard!! ❤️

  2. So good to know that the local risks have diminished so much that firefighters have to be ‘released’ , i.e. sacked, and station hours decreased, and one appliance taken away. As per the previous comment, Ashdown Forest has suddenly become less flammable, has it? In our current global warming situation, the /Forest needs utmost surveillance, and not have to wait till even more retained firefighters can get to the station from where they live or work. The number of RTAs might have gone down in the current pandemic lockdown, with fewer vehicles on the roads, but I’d guess the number of domestic fires and accidents are going up, and knowing the Fred Kano’s army in charge at present, these stats might well be hidden. They tried this ‘rationalisation’ in London and it was not a good move, but unfortunately the public are not aware of the impact these cuts are making. What a way to treat some of our important key workers. No wonder the FBU is not in favour.

  3. Utter stupidity 1 fire engine is ridiculous. If there was an emergency lives would be lost waiting for another fire crew to attend.
    Think Again!
    Angela Softley Fermor Way

  4. A shocking proposal which will put lives at risk!
    Where is the evidence to show that most fires and emergency help requiring the fire services happen between 9-5:30pm on weekdays?!?!
    …and that all of these incidents only need one fire engine?! Or only one incident happens at a time?!?!
    We have the Ashdown Forest on our doorstep which regularly needs assistance for RTA’s or fires.
    The 5 minutes increase time can be the difference between life and death for the people involved in the situations needing help, are their lives not worth the money?
    For the incredible and heroic firefighters who risk their lives to save others on a daily basis, they will be rewarded for their dedication to our community by being sacked?!?!
    For a fast growing town and it’s surrounding area, this doesn’t make any sense and shows a complete lack of compassion and care for its residents!
    Regards
    Sarah Pollard

  5. Leave our fire fighters alone, yes they took away the police station, that didn’t work, they took the car parking away from the Communittee centre, now they want to take away our fire services, and what if Ashdown forest is on fire, that is important enough to keep our fire service alone. Let the people speak so we can say NO.

  6. Ok a Nus Ghani, where are you in this decision? Please can you fight For Crowborough. Our Police Station is empty!!! Now a reduced Fire Station, yet more and more homes are being built in Crowborough, and the Ashdown Forest has had a number of fire problems over the last year or two, so why reduce our fire services? This is an absolutely ridiculous idea. Ms Ghani please intervene? These firefighters are amazing people who give there lives to rescue us, and we need them, please help.

    • The fire service did a great job getting my 1 year old out of a locked car when my son pressed the self locking button. They came within 10minutes. I dread to think how much longer it would have taken with a reduced fire service.

  7. Yes totally agree, Please look after your Community not ruin it. We are a good Communittee and help each other why are you against keeping Crowborough and surrounding areas safe, we cannot risk loosing Ashdown Forrest. PLEASE LEAVE OUR FIRE STATION AND OUR FIGHTERS ALONE.

  8. HOW MANY MORE CUTS MUST WE ENDURE? ANY REDUCTION IN THE FIRE SERVICE AT CROWBOROUGH OR THE OTHER LOCAL STATION WILL BE DETRIMENTAL TO HEALTH AND SAFETY. WILL THOSE WHO ADVOCATE THESE PROPOSED CHANGES BE HELD TO ACCOUNT IF AND WHEN FATALITIES OCCUR ARISING FROM CUTS INTHIS SERVICE – I FEAR NOT – THEY WILL BE LONG GONE. THIS IS TOTALLY IRRESPONSIBLE. I AM TOTALLY AGAINST ANY CHANGES IN THE LOCAL FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE.

  9. All your comments are so important BUT you must all submit your comments through the official East Sussex Fire and Rescue site to influence the result of the review, if you have not I IMPLORE YOU TO DO SO WITHOUT FAIL. ESF&R has been pared to the bone by continuous political cuts and meddling,to a point where in recent large incidents extra appliances have not been available when requested and if two large incidents should occur at the same time then full back up and resources cannot be relied on. Assistance from neighbouring Brigades cannot be relied on as they too have been affected by Governmental induced cuts. So ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Loss of Brigade Housing has seen a doubling of turnout times during on call hours, Longer response times times increases the severity of fires, endangering life further both yours and Firefighters. All Firefighters commit themselves fully to serving us all and at Crowborough like all of our Day Crewed Stations I assure you that they give their all, sadly since 2002 this has seen the loss of three collegues whom I had the honour to serve alongside. To cut wholetime Firefighters and loose so many second appliances is, in my opinion, criminaly irresponsible. Politicians must take note and Chief Officers of Fire and Rescue services must stand up and demand that the service is CUT NO FURTHER, I hope that you all support me and that the work that Crowborough Firefighters continue to serve us all in saving lives,fighting fires and continue to rescue animals for which their expertise is second to non. THANK YOU>

  10. We will further our comments on the local councillors! MP, fire brigade authority. Sign every petition going. This “consultation” has gone ahead because the authorities know that we are focused on the pandemic and won’t bother. Let’s prove them WRONG!!!

  11. Having brought in most of the appliances from Sussex and surrounding area, 29 altogether, if my memory is correct, and a pond and a tanker as all the water was sucked out of the mains, to deal with the’ hoarders’ property The Wyche in Rannoch road in January 2015, (details on the internet ) which took two and half days to put out and make safe, resulting in our adjoining property being rendered uninhabitable, we find the proposal amazing, Crowborough is now probably four times as large as during the seventies, creating more and more council taxes, and fail to see how the proposed cuts will improve the system to keep us safe. Until another major conflagration proves otherwise, we will live in hope of their ability to cope. Please do not reduce our cover in Crowborough

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