Fire service cover lacking in East Sussex towns: FBU

Towns and villages in East Sussex are being left without local fire cover while cuts are being planned, according to the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).

The union has criticised East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS), claiming that appliances have not been available for emergencies due to staff shortages.

They claim that further cuts will make the situation worse.

ESFRS said response times would not be affected by a reduction in funding.

The service will see a reduction in central government funding of £1.9m by 2016/17.

In a statement, the FBU said: "It seems apparent to the FBU that ESFRS senior managers, and indeed the fire authority of East Sussex, are comfortable with the situation, whereby whole villages and towns have no fire cover supplied by their local fire station and firefighters.

'Deaths risen'

"They are relying on neighbouring stations and firefighters who would have long travel times and distances to attend any emergency.

"Over the last year deaths due to fire have significantly risen within East Sussex and any further cuts, in the opinion of the FBU, will lead to further deaths and injuries."

Gary Walsh, deputy chief fire officer for ESFRS, said proposals put forward to meet the reduction in funding had not yet been approved.

"East Sussex Fire Authority has always maintained that there are no plans in place to reduce our operational response standards and this has not changed," he said.

"Our ability to respond effectively and safely to all operational incidents within our target response times, utilising appropriate and planned resources has not been, and will not be, affected.

"There will be no drop in standards and safety will not be compromised, either for the public or for our firefighters."

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