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Losing Petworth fire engine ‘won’t save money’

A fire drill Picture by Kate Shemilt.C140219-14 SUS-140218-131738001

A fire drill Picture by Kate Shemilt.C140219-14 SUS-140218-131738001

CUTS to the fire service are being felt by people in Petworth.

Crew manager at Petworth fire station, Mike Still, doesn’t see how getting rid of an engine in the town will save money.

“Our second engine is paid for,” he said.

“It doesn’t cost the brigade any money to keep our second pump, so there is no real saving to be made in losing that appliance.

“It’s actually very old and needs replacing.

“At night there is a greater risk – people are asleep, not alert or aware of what is going on, so we need two engines at night when there is a bigger risk.”

There are currently 14 retained firefighters at Petworth, and Mike is ‘not happy’ with the proposed changes, which are only worsened by the gap left from cuts being made around the county.

“The nearest full-time pump is Midhurst, then Chichester, over 12 miles away, then Horsham.

“That means a massive travelling distance and a massive gap in fire cover.

“The A272, A285 and A283 are among the most dangerous roads in the country. We are at the bottom of Duncton Hill, and we go to incidents there all the time.

“There is no threat to jobs, but no investment in the retained service, either.

“At present, there is no concerted move to recruit people, and those who are retiring or leaving are not being replaced.”

Mike said that with the weather conditions causing severe flooding across the area over the Christmas period, both engines were in constant use.

“Both were out for 12, 15 hours non-stop over Christmas.

“Other brigades are facing similar problems –Hampshire as well as Sussex.

“Fire cover is being reduced so we can’t rely on back-up from other services.

“Some days we have only one pump.

“A small fire could become a big one if we can’t deal with it quickly.”

 

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