Almost 11,000 sign petition to scrap proposed fire cuts
Nearly 11,000 people have now signed a petition calling on Surrey County Council to scrap plans to change night cover at fire stations.
This comes as the closing date for residents to comment on the proposed changes draws near.The online petition, started by Paul Couchman from Save our Services in Surrey, had 10,893 signatures this week.
SCC’s consultation is on its Making Surrey Safer Plan for 2020-2023 for Surrey Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).
Proposals include spending more time on prevention and educating residents and businesses about the risks of fire and changes to Banstead , Camberley , Egham , Fordbridge, Guildford , Haslemere , Painshill, Walton and Woking stations with night cover being provided by neighbouring stations.
The service is also looking to “recover costs” from non-emergency call-outs such as freeing trapped animals and persistent false automatic fire alarms.
The consultation closes on Sunday, May 26.
But campaigners are concerned the changes to night cover will affect residents and firefighters responding to fires at night.
The petition states: “For a house fire, needing firefighters with breathing apparatus, residents in these areas will be reliant upon fire engines coming in from other areas of Surrey. Night time is precisely the time when the most serious fires occur, when approximately 75% of all fire deaths occur, according to Home Office Statistics.”
Last week Surrey firefighters went to meet MPs at Westminster to discuss their concerns over the cuts and the effect it will have on elderly and vulnerable residents.
The Fire Brigades Union, which organised the meeting, says the cuts would result in drastic reductions to fire cover at night.
Lee Belsten, FBU Surrey brigade secretary, said: “Surrey firefighters are already struggling to keep the public safe after years of cuts to the fire service.”
Last month, SCC leader Tim Oliver said the proposed changes outlined in Making Surrey Safer were about making “better use of resources”.
This week a SFRS spokesman said: “It’s important to recognise we’ve put forward a wide-ranging improvement plan for a service that the inspectorate insists we improve. We are confident our proposals will save lives.
“What protects people is stopping fires before they start. Fire prevention work saves lives, especially vulnerable people, and that’s why we’re proposing to carry out four times as many fire prevention visits each year. Our proposals include substantial investment in training crews, new fire engines and new technology which will speed up response times when the service is busiest.
“All responses to the consultation will be fully reviewed.”
This article originally appeared on Surrey Live
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