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Financial Cuts Not Being Made to Fire Service, Says Councillor Responding to Criticism

Published on: 3 Jun, 2020
Updated on: 5 Jun, 2020

By Martin Giles

Financial cuts are not being made to Surrey’s Fire & Rescue Services according to Surrey County Council’s cabinet member for Community Safety, Fire and Resilience.

The assertion comes after social media criticism from those within Surrey’s Fire & Rescue Service during the operation to fight the wildfire on Thursley Common and simultaneously tackle a major fire in Chertsey.

See: Inadequate Firefighting Capacity Claimed As Thursley Wildfire Brought Under Control

Cllr Denise Turner-Stewart county councillor for Staines South and Ashford West, was asked “Given the problems of meeting all the concurrent demands on Surrey’s Fire & Rescue Service, do you think that the cuts already imposed and further cuts, said to be planned, should be reviewed?”

Cllr Denise Turner-Stewart

She replied: “The Making Surrey Safer Plan does not make financial cuts, instead, it enables us to refocus resources on prevention activities aimed at protecting our most vulnerable residents.  The plan also builds in capacity to ensure we can always deal with emergencies effectively, including these types of incidents.

“Throughout this incident, resilience around the county remained good and adequate fire cover was available at all times. The Rapid Relief Team and neighbouring fire services provided support to crews in the normal way, this ensures that our firefighters are rested and hydrated, additionally every fire engines carries its own supplies of food and water too.

“During busy periods or when other appliances are nearer to an emergency, it is normal practice to call upon neighbouring fire and rescue services to support us and this is an arrangement we regularly reciprocate.

“We are incredibly proud of how our staff and partners responded to this incident and brought it under control.”

Brian Creese

But Brian Creese, chairman of the Guildford Labour Party, had a different view: “We have been supporting Surrey Fire Brigades Union, and the related Save Our Services in Surrey campaign, over the past two years as it has fought to oppose Surrey County Council’s ‘Transformation’ plan to cut firemen, cut pumps (fire engines) and close fire stations.

“This plan has been part of Surrey County Council’s austerity programme dressed up as Making Surrey Safer and involved drastically reduced night-time provision and cutting fire cover in Guildford by half.

“Surrey Fire and Rescue is on its knees after 10 years of brutal cuts and now has insufficient staff or resources to maintain a reasonable level of safety for Surrey people. So any major fire incident, like the current one at Thursley, particularly when combined with the major fire in Chertsey on Sunday will always leave Surrey in a parlous situation.

“Now is the time to stop any further cuts to our fire services and Surrey County Council should review the cuts already imposed. Austerity has and does kill and it is time this policy of endless cuts to basic safety services ended.”

Liberal Democrat county councillors were also invited to comment.

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test 5 Responses to Financial Cuts Not Being Made to Fire Service, Says Councillor Responding to Criticism

  1. Mark Jones Reply

    June 3, 2020 at 3:19 pm

    Are certain councillors totally blind to the cuts? I served in Surrey Fire And Rescue Service for 32 years and retired three years ago. I am totally shocked at the way a once brilliant fire service has been cut. The council officials and the senior management of SFRS should hang their heads in shame. Moral was very low, now it is even lower. I still have very close friends in the service and constantly hear how bad it is.

    Those responsible will have blood on their hands. It is only a matter of time.

  2. Tony Morris Reply

    June 3, 2020 at 3:22 pm

    Cllr Turner-Stewart is being disingenuous. Funding for front-line response is being cut. Previous cuts have already seen fire engines inadequately crewed, fire engines and even fire stations out of service because of inadequate staffing, and a hopelessly inadequately staffed control room.

    Taking on call handling for West Sussex means an over 180% increase in workload, yet minimum staffing has only increased by 20%. Cllr Turner-Stewart is misleading the public and failing in her duty.

  3. Jim Allen Reply

    June 3, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    They are not “being” made, as in the headline, they have already been made.

  4. Frank Scribe Reply

    June 5, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    Has anyone considered what will happen on the day when neighbouring brigades cannot or will not provide support to prop up Surrey Fire & Rescue Service?

    There is no meat on the bone and a terrorist threat or major incident is always lurking around the corner.

  5. Rob Searle Reply

    June 6, 2020 at 5:40 pm

    There is no “resilience” in Surrey Fire and Rescue Service, especially between 7pm and 7am, when four whole-time fire engines are withdrawn from service due to the “Making Surrey Safer” cuts, at Woking, Guildford, Camberley and Fordbridge.

    The brigade is short of whole-time firefighters and is leaching junior officers through transfers to London Fire Brigade. Recruitment is not keeping up with staff losses.

    Most of the part-time stations, which are mainly in the rural areas, are short or crew and the brigade is failing to recruit and train new staff. Part-time, on-call, firefighters traditionally make up for whole-time deficiencies but they can’t do this now.

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