Last night’s serious fire in Bognor Regis is an important reminder of the need for adequate resources. The fire needed eleven standard fire engines from Bognor Regis (2), Chichester (2), Littlehampton (2), East Preston, Arundel, Havant (Hampshire), Worthing and Midhurst
The 1978 Woolworth store fire in Bognor Regis required 32 standard fire engines to contain and extinguish it, and it provides an interesting comparison when you compare resources available then and now.
Removed since 1978 have been the Hydraulic Platform from Chichester, and fire engines from Bognor Regis (3rd), Bosham (station closed), East Preston (2nd), Midhurst (2nd), Petworth (2nd), Storrington (2nd), Lancing (2nd), Findon (station closed), Keymer (station closed), Horley (both fire engines removed), and Crawley (3rd).
Hampshire fire engines involved at the Woolworth incident, or standing by for other calls at West Sussex stations, were Emsworth, Cosham x 2, Havant x 2, Waterlooville, Petersfield, Fareham, and Portchester. Drastic cuts are of course now planned for these stations.
The Fire & Rescue Service keep using a recent drop in incidents to falsely justify cuts, so when thinking about resources that have been removed, it is worth remembering that in 1978 there were just 5,654 incidents in West Sussex. In 2013-14 there were 9,337 incidents, which is 40% more. Resources were not improved when calls increased, they have just been progressively cut.