Battle Fire Station meeting - Is merging the answer?

MERGING with a neighbouring fire service would pay for 35 firefighters in East Sussex, according to FBU secretary Mark Brown.

He told ESFRS deputy chief fire officer Gary Walsh: “If you reorganised our fire service and had one chief fire officer and one deputy chief fire officer for East Sussex, West Sussex, Kent and Surrey, you could save £1m a year.

“That’s the equivalent of 35 firefighters.”

DCFO Walsh said: “East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service did work for 18 months for the Fire Authority to merge with West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.

“ESFRS are still asking us as officers to speak to our counterparts.

“WSFRS did not want to take up that option of a merged fire service.”

He pointed out that ESFRS was continuing to talk to fire services in Surrey and West Sussex and was also currently looking to outsource its ICT department.

But he appeared to agree with Mr Brown that a merger could be the way forward - even though it would put his own position at risk.

He said: “A merged fire service would absolutely have been more effective for the communities of Sussex.

“I agree with Mark and if it means one less deputy chief fire officer, it means one less deputy chief fire officer.”