From: Eric Waters, Ingleside Crescent, Lancing
The Observer carried a report recently about a chip shop fire in St. Leonards.
It was described as a severe one which needed the attendance of five appliances, one of which had to travel all the way from Eastbourne, a distance of around 17 miles.
Observer readers may be surprised that a fire engine had to travel all that way, and probably wondered how long it took to get to London Road, but that was nothing unusual for nowadays.
In the last 10 years our Fire and Rescue Services have been cut to the bone, 10,00 firefighters and their equipment have been done away with, and this has resulted in the fact that there are now never enough appliances and their crews available locally to attend emergency call outs.
For example, a couple of weeks ago a fire engine had to be sent 20 miles from Uckfield to help out at a kitchen fire in Brighton.
Two years ago appliances had to travel the same distance to get to an Eastbourne school fire and last year the part-time, retained firefighters at Hailsham had to turnout from their homes, get to their fire station and then drive 23 miles to help out at a fire in a Brighton block of flats.
How long did that take them? How effective were they when they finally got to the fire? Can someone in authority tell me?
There was even a fire at Selsey where one machine travelled no less than 37 miles to get to the fire.
Needless to say the school in question burnt to the ground.
What on earth would happen if, God forbid, we ever have a Sussex tower block tragedy like the one in London?
Would we hear the usual, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the deceased and lessons will be learned” statement?
The fact is that lessons are always learned too late, but it is not too late to restore all the firefighters and their appliances that have been done away with over the last decade.