Surrey Fire and Rescue contract defended by firm

The boss of a private rescue firm which is to be employed by Surrey Fire and Rescue said the partnership will be "very cost effective".

Peter Faulding from Specialist Group International defended the contract after the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) criticised it last week.

The firm would provide equipment and teams for specialist rescue operations.

Mr Faulding said his company would respond as quickly as it could between 08:00 GMT and 17:00 GMT.

He said after 17:00 GMT and on weekends it would take one hour to respond to calls.

Rescue in water

In a pilot one-year contract, which is yet to be finalised, Specialist Group International would provide Surrey firefighters with access to a helicopter, a specialist dive team, a fleet of inflatable boats, a remote control submarine and 4x4 vehicles.

Mr Faulding said it would not be a viable investment for Surrey Fire and Rescue to buy the equipment and recruit and train firefighters in the skills his company provides.

Specialist Group International's expertise includes search and rescue in water and rescue from confined spaces.

The FBU said the council should increase firefighter numbers rather than giving money to a private firm.

Surrey County Council would not reveal the cost until the contract has been signed because of "commercial sensitivities".

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