Battle fire station could be at risk

THE future of Battle Fire Station could be hanging in the balance as East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service attempts to save money.

Proposals to change ESFRS have been unveiled ahead of a key Fire Authority meeting next Friday (February 14).

Amongst the proposals is one to downgrade Battle Fire Station to a retained station, with a loss of nine jobs, to save £200,000 by 2018/19.

ESFRS says it has to meet the twin challenges of changing needs within the community and reductions in its funding.

The Service claims the proposals are in response to fall in the number of incidents, reduced cuts in Government grants and pressures to keep Council Tax levels low.

At next week’s meeting, the Fire Authority will consider its budget and Council Tax as well as decide whether to go to public consultation on a number of proposals to change the service over the next five years

The proposals under consultation focus on maintaining the provision of prevention, fire safety and response services against our current standards, while adjusting working practises to make the most of reducing financial resources.

The proposals are laid out in full below:

Proposal 1

Brighton has three fire stations: Hove, Preston Circus and Roedean.

We are proposing to remove a fire engine from either Preston Circus or Hove. This means we continue to base four fire engines in the City which are crewed 24 hours a day. In addition, we will still provide an aerial ladder capability which can reach people in high rise buildings.

The provision of this will be reviewed in 2014/15.

This change would have no significant impact on life risk and attendance standards would still be met. This would mean a reduction in 24 posts.

If fully implemented, it could save us £1.066 million by 2018/19.

Proposal 2 a or b

These proposals are based on an “either/or” basis – only one would need to be implemented to contribute towards the savings needed by 2018/19

Proposal 2a

Convert Battle Fire Station from Wholetime (Day Crewed) to a new Day Crewed Duty System. The station could then provide the same standard of cover 7 days a week instead of 5, giving more support for Hastings.

We would therefore be able to remove the Retained Duty System fire engine from The Ridge Fire Station in Hastings. This attends a low number of calls and so removing it is predicted to have no significant impact on Service performance. This would mean we increase the establishment at Battle whilst reducing the number of on call firefighters at The Ridge.

If fully implemented, resources would be reallocated to increase the establishment at Battle, leaving us with a net saving of £14,000 by 2018/19

Proposal 2b

Convert Battle Fire Station from Wholetime (Day Crewed) to a retained duty system. This would reduce the number of Wholetime posts at Battle by 9.

This would mean both fire engines are kept at The Ridge in Hastings. Battle has a low number of calls and analysis shows there would be no significant impact on Service performance.

If fully implemented, this could save £200,000 by 2018/19.

Proposal 3

Introduce “Day Crewed Plus” at Roedean Fire Station in Brighton and The Ridge Fire Station in Hastings, both currently Wholetime stations.

“Day Crewed Plus” would be a new way of working for East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service and is successfully used by other fire and rescue services across England. It means that firefighters stay in accommodation provided by us on site on a self rostering duty system.

They are therefore still ready to turn out 24 hours a day. This option would mean we could save money by reducing posts but it would not affect attendance times.

This would reduce the number of posts by 20.

This could save us the Service £432,000 by 2018/19.