Monday, 1 September 2014

Feedback on Facebook group

To alert people to the issues, as well as this blog, I also set up a Facebook group. To my surprise it attracted 226 members in just 4 days. So I thought it might be interesting for people who are not on Facebook to see some of the comments.

Starting with disagreement from a serving senior officer, who is also a Conservative District Councillor:

Thanks for inviting me to join Tony but despite being as passionate about the Service as I know you are, my view differs from yours. In order to modernise and move forward we need make some difficult decisions that will result in less Fire engines. Never easy of course but your view that the more Fire Engines we have equals the best service is too simplistic and does not represent the best value to the residents of West Sussex. Social changes and an ever changing society mean we need to look very closely at the Service we provide and give the best value. Fire Services nationally must reflect the society we live in today and Its not all about how many Red Lorries we can put on the road. Having said this, I am glad you have this campaign going as its important we engage with as many people as possible and listen to their views. Your fb page I am sure will spark some passionate debate.
I am sure will spark some passionate debate.

Now the replies:

From Bob - Who are "we"? Bean counters I assume, rather than operational personell who do it day in, day out, and have a bit more of a clue as to what the job entails, rather than going by a spreadsheet. Glad I never had the pleasure of working with your outfit mister ! Guess youv`e been lucky enough not to be trapped in a room with a towel across the bottom of the door in an attempt to keep the smoke out, wondering where the hell the fire engine is as they used to be four minutes down the road, now they are not there any more, Go carefull!

From David - don't think your father would have thought like that Roy. That sounds like a typical reply from the Fire Service Hierachy. Certainly wasn't the view of the personnel back in the summer of 76!! The Brigade back then was stretched from one side of the County to the other.

From Tony Morris - Thanks for the response Roy, but I have not said more fire engines equals the best service. The issue is about the effects of having fewer resources (fire engines and crews) to deal with incidents across the county. It will be bad enough day to day, but hopeless during spate conditions, something that we are likely to see more frequently. The consultation document is less than honest about this. Longer response times and gaps in fire cover will be the result. That will cost lives, public and potentially firefighters, and increase property damage. The technical report admits that, so it should have been included in the consultation document. Not all the proposals have been risk assessed, so the actual effect on lives and property could be even greater. I was not a fan of a merger, but it would save a significant amount in the long term, so it is illogical not to have progressed that with East Sussex, or perhaps Surrey. The proposals are not best value. They will result in a second rate service that will cost society far more in lost lives, NHS costs, lost employment and production, insurance costs etc, than they save in Council Tax. Not to mention of course the misery and distress that goes with them. Given your position in the service and your political involvement, I did not expect support, but I felt it right to open the group to all views. In fact, had there been more accuracy and honesty in the consultation document, instead of corporate and political spin, I wonder if I would have been driven to put this much effort in to the 'campaign'.

From Dave - Roy, your corporate approach to this issue would probably work if we changed what is the UK Officers club. If you and your colleagues nationally really believe in value for money, then nationalise and get rid of 50 plus fire service management teams in the current structure. No uk business would have 50 pay groups, stores, transport team etc. These cuts are from the wrong end, it should be top down, not bottom up!!!! As Officers you really have little idea about recession and cuts. As the MD of my company and ex-retained, we have personally had to accept wage cuts, perhaps you all might consider that??

We still see major incidents on our borders where WSFRS appliances do not attend, so quickest and shortest that WSFRS adopt in inviting over the border appliances is a one way occurrence.

From David - Roy on the positive side of things I am sure that there will be plenty of officers to write up the reports when more property and lives are lost due to delayed responses. I hope it makes the councillors feel better that feel they can justify their decisions. Politically correct maybe, morally correct definetly not !!!

From Mark - Whilst I'm not surprised by you answer Roy I am disappointed as you have clearly lost touch with your roots. I left some 25 years ago and even then there were whole levels of 'management' who could no more manage than fly and in many cases were downright dangerous on the fireground. Clearly, like any other organisation today WSFR (and the rest) are top heavy and as others have said that's where cuts should start, probably with regional brigades rather than fully nationalised. For years we've had East and West Sussex when the Police force who are far larger work well as just Sussex. The public don't care about politics they just want to see a red lorry turn up quickly when they call for help that is what they pay for after all. All the men in braid mean nothing to them!

From Barry - I am not sure if these cuts are being brought in and heaven forbid they are, where are the appliances going to come from to deal with a very large incident ? It would involve so many movements of other appliances that other areas would be left even lighter on fire cover. Officer attendance does not put out fires !!!

From Adey - Whilst there are many ways of working "smarter" or more efficiently reducing your ground troops whilst still having the same number of back office and management functions in place is not one of them. Those filing paper, typing letters and crunching numbers cannot perform the basic core function of your "business" I.e. fighting fires and performing rescue functionality. So sadly you seem to be missing the point by saying that cutting front line services is cost effective. Without these your front line staff those valuable targets set by the Govt bean counters will be missed. That is where the Ambulance Service has failed and are consequently being fined for failing to meet targets. Paying fines means less money in the budget to improve failings, so cuts at the sharp end are a false economy. Can you come back to this group and convince me that the proposals set out by the CFO can be truly and honestly justified?

From Mark - Sorry Roy but I've just re-read your response and quite frankly it's not only condescending but totally biased and without any moral, logical or meaningful foundation whatsoever. Having looked at the page I now realise how many appliances have been cut for a relatively small saving in money. Being totally honest, if you remember after the 1976 strike I had little time for the retained but in reality they are the only feasible cover available in outlying areas and to cut them is sheer folly. This is particularly true in East Preston given the 100s of homes being built in Angmering etc. I'm afraid that regardless of whether you are wearing your political or management hat, your comments supporting the proposals are either totally naive or totally cynical and dismissing talk of keeping pumps as 'simplistic' is actually insulting.

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