The period for consultation whether or not to downgrade Battle Fire Station is now over but it is not until next month that the Fire Authority will meet to make its decision. There is still time to make representations to the Councillors who serve on the Authority. Email addresses for each councillor may be found on the Fire Authority website at www.esfrs.org
Many readers will know one proposal is to downgrade Battle Fire Station to retained status only. This means that the single pump remaining at Battle would only turn out if sufficient retained firefighters, who are trained volunteers, were available. In recent times, I understand that availability has been less than 25%.
Battle Fire Station not only serves Battle and the immediately surrounding villages but answers emergencies much further afield when cover is unavailable or insufficient from the retained stations at Broad Oak, Burwash, Herstmonceux and Wadhurst. It also provides important additional support for Hastings and Bexhill at times of major or multiple incidents.
If this proposal is accepted it may well mean the end of Battle Fire Station as an active provider of Fire and Rescue Services in East Sussex. Readers may feel that the downgrading of Battle Fire Station and the provision of the bulk of fire and rescue services from stations at Bohemia and The Ridge would deprive large parts of rural Rother and some of Wealden of an efficient service. It will lead to inferior response times which, for some, will mean the difference between life and death. This may be of particular importance in the case of serious road traffic accidents on the dangerous A21 road.
Council Tax payers all contribute to fire and rescue services which need to be delivered in a balanced and efficient manner countywide, as is the intention of Parliament.
I urge all concerned readers to lobby the councillors who will be making this important decision for us all.