YOUR headline in last week’s paper is quite correct, it is indeed shameful to set firefighter against firefighter and town against town. We should be working together to protect both Battle and Hastings and their rural hinterland.
It is important to understand the figures to see why option 2b will not do this.
The calls logged against Battle are those carried out in that fire station’s area; if an appliance from Battle attends a call not in its area then the call is logged against the appropriate pump whether or not it turned out. For example if Battle firefighters attend a call at Hurst Green, a village which should be attended by the Burwash pump, and are the only appliance there because the Burwash pump could not get out then it will be logged as a Burwash call not a Battle one. This makes it appear that Battle’s firefighters are much less busy than they actually are.
This is not an uncommon occurrence during the day. The reason is that the fire station at Burwash is staffed by retained firefighters and it is known that it is often not possible for the four crew members required for a retained pump, at any fire station, to get to the appliance within five minutes and when this happens the nearest fire station with full time firefighters is called out. This is why Battle and Hastings cover each other and the wide rural area to the north, west and east. The nearest alternative fire stations with full time crew are at Uckfield and Crowborough.
If option 2b were to be the outcome of the consultation and Battle Fire Station downgraded to retained status then the county would lose Battle as a strategic alternative on those occasions when a retained crew cannot get to the fire station fast enough.
I consider that this crucial decision to be taken by the Fire Authority is a matter of safety for the residents of East Sussex and not a party political matter. I hope all members of the Fire Authority, regardless of politics will understand the strategic importance of Battle for the whole county and for the safety of their residents and vote for option 2a.
Kathryn M Field
County Councillor for Battle and Crowhurst Division
District Councillor for Battle Town Ward