Friday, 30 January 2015

West Sussex County Council cuts to the Fire & Rescue Service are unjustified and dangerous

Just a reminder about why the online petition is so important. 

Please also note that the Council say only signatures from people living, working or studying in West Sussex and showing a valid West Sussex post code will be counted. If you live outside the County please use your West Sussex work or study address and postcode. After signing, you have to confirm the link sent to you by email, so if you do not receive that email, please check your spam folder.

West Sussex County Council cuts to the Fire & Rescue Service are unjustified and dangerous

Relative changes since 1978, using the official figures for each year shown

This chart illustrates that, whilst fire deaths and incidents fluctuated, the number of fire engines to protect residents never fell below 45 until 2011. That is because 45 fire engines were the minimum necessary to reach any location quickly, as well as providing enough to deal with simultaneous incidents and with those requiring several fire engines.

Every Chief Fire Officer since 1948, when control of the fire service passed to West Sussex County Council, has considered that to be an absolute minimum. Every Chair and the Members of the relevant County Council committee have supported that from 1948 until 2010.

Political interests have now replaced proper risk assessment. Since 2010 three fire stations have been closed and six fire engines and their crews cut. Response times and fire deaths are increasing. In 2013/14 the availability of retained (part time) firefighters was 16% below standard, with some fire engines not crewed more often than they were crewed.

The professional case for those cuts was weak, and the professional case for a further cut of firefighters and another five fire engines is non-existent. The number of incidents is still well above 1970s and early 1980s figures, yet further cuts of fire engines and firefighters are planned.

Their claims that 'prevention is at the heart of everything we do', is just hot air designed to deflect attention from the frontline service cuts. Over 12,000 inspections in 1989, yet by 2012/13 that was down to just 1,400. With 34% of those inspections finding premises that were unsatisfactory, you have to wonder how many premises that were not inspected are also unsatisfactory.

There is no doubt that further cuts will increase response times, and that will result in more deaths, more injuries, and more property damage. That is not acceptable.

The following charts show the actual numbers for each of those years.


  1. Is there any further reading you would recommend on this?