No fire cover at night in Surrey!

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FBU leader MATT WRACK surrounded by firefighters fighting station closures – ten have already been shut in London

SURREY County Council has announced shocking plans to shut three fire stations at night, axe 70 firefighters’ jobs and halve the fire cover at four other stations, putting Surrey residents’ lives in serious jeopardy.

How will vulnerable residents of Surrey be able to sleep at night knowing that there is no fire cover?

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service has already experienced brutal cuts, with 131 firefighter positions slashed between 2010 and 2018 – a 17% reduction in the workforce. Proposals to cut a further 70 firefighters would lead to a total 22% reduction since 2010.

The cuts would also see drastic reductions to fire cover at night, resulting in a significant slowing of emergency response times.

Last year, 75% of fire deaths occurred on the nightshift between 18:00 and 09:00.

Egham, Painshill and Banstead fire stations will now close at 18:00, while fire cover at Guildford, Woking, Camberley, and Spelthorne would be cut in half during the same period.

The fire authority’s draft Equality Impact Assessment reveals:

  • 45% of those killed in Surrey fires were 70 or older between 2008 and 2018, despite only making up 14% of the population.
  • 7 of the 16 killed in fires had mobility issues that affected their ability to escape the fire between 2006 and 2012.

Lee Belsten, FBU Surrey Brigade Secretary, said: ‘After years of austerity, Surrey firefighters are already fighting an uphill battle to keep the public safe. Residents and firefighters are crying out – these cuts cannot go ahead. We cannot let vulnerable people pay the ultimate price for the council’s complacency.’

  • Residents of Braithwaite House in Islington are demanding that after the flammable cladding was removed from their tower block, that the council invest in a new fire escape and sprinkler system instead of spending money on building new homes.

Islington Town Hall is consulting on plans to build 42 new homes around Braithwaite House and on top of nearby Quaker Court.

Susie Lukes, who lives on the 17th floor of the 19-storey 1960s building, said: ‘The council said no to fire escapes and yet they have money to build more houses. I am not against some kind of regeneration, but we don’t feel heard. The council seem to be more keen to sell off our podium than they are to get our flats safe.’