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Surrey Fire Service Requires Re-modelling Says Report

Published on: 1 Dec, 2018
Updated on: 5 Dec, 2018

By Rebecca Curley

Local Democracy Reporter

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service needs to undergo a major transformation, according to a report.

The culture around managers and firefighters needs to change and there needs to be a shift towards more prevention and protection activities, councillors will be told.

The re-modelled service will also affect the number of firefighters and stations in the county.

The findings from an inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) carried out over the summer are due to be published on Thursday, December 6.

But a report to go to Surrey County Council (SCC) environment select committee on Wednesday, December 5 indicates major changes in the service.

The changes being set out in the paper differ to those proposed two years ago in 2016 when the fire service was told to make £6m savings and replace fire engines with initial response vehicles.

The service is now being told by SCC, the county’s fire authority, to make £2m savings and focus more on prevention and protection as well as a change in culture for the staff.

A business case set out to be considered by the committee on Wednesday states: “As these savings proposals were developed it became clear that they were not deliverable, particularly given the number of external factors that have impacted on the service since 2016.

“Additionally, the changes proposed did not address the key issues raised by the HMICFRS inspection.

“This identified that significant changes were required to the service in areas of effectiveness, efficiency and how well it looks after its people.”

The new model will be based on 22/23 daytime fire appliances and 16-18 night-time fire vehicles. These figures will then determine how many stations and firefighters are needed.

The business case warns this could result in “a change of headcount” and a “possible rationalisation of infrastructure”.

The fire service has experienced a recruitment freeze and cuts in station opening times over the past few years.

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service is headed up by acting chief fire officer Steve Owen-Hughes who was appointed in August this year replacing former chief Russell Pearson.

All proposals will undergo a public consultation in March 2019 with a view to them being implemented by October 2019.

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