West Sussex fire service cuts consultation begins

Residents in West Sussex are being asked for their views on cuts to fire and rescue services in the county.

West Sussex County Council said the service had to make savings of £2.5m by April 2013.

They have launched a consultation which details plans to reduce staffing and possibly close Horley Fire Station.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has warned that emergency response times could suffer.

However, deputy chief fire officer Sean Ruth said frontline response would not be damaged.

'Effective emergency response'

"We're looking at senior and middle management posts, reviewing the number of on-call officers we have, how we crew some of our specialist vehicles, reducing our fleet and looking at our support functions," he said.

"So we think we've pulled together a set of plans which will have the least impact on frontline services."

A planned merger between fire and rescue services in West and East Sussex was put on hold in February, due to proposals to change government grant funding.

Both services claim a merger would have been able to save them money.

Francis Bishop, the West Sussex branch secretary of the FBU, said: "The driver is savings, no-one is saying they're improving the service.

"Effective emergency response is expensive, so what worries us is that emergency response will suffer."

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