PETWORTH firefighters have launched a two-pronged campaign in a bid to save emergency services for the town.
They are starting an intensive recruitment drive to try to ensure they can man their two fire engines, one of which could be lost as West Sussex County Council puts forward proposals to scale back fire and rescue services across the county.
They are also calling on the support of town councillors and the National Trust which is responsible for the historic Petworth House and all its priceless possessions.
Watch manager Martin Eldrige said: “Petworth Town Council need to take it a bit more seriously. If they think it’s fine, then they are wrong.
“Midhurst Town Council have got the right idea. The information is out there for everyone to see.
“We are also trying to get the National Trust involved in a campaign to save our second engine – there is a lot of property in Petworth House which is priceless.”
West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is looking to save £1.6m over the next year, having already saved £4m over the past four years in line with county council budget reductions.
Deputy chief fire officer Lee Neale told Midhurst Town Council that cuts could equate to three additional fire deaths per 100 years, which was ‘still too much’, and £80,000 worth of property damage.
Petworth crew manager Simon Apps added: “The proposals across the county are to lose four appliances, which means others will have to move to fill the gaps.
“Road traffic accidents often happen early in the morning, around 2am, or on Friday and Saturday nights. If you’re not recruiting, you can’t man the second truck.”
The station will be holding an informal recruitment open evening on Thursday, July 3 from 7pm-9pm for anyone to go along and meet the crew, at Station Road, Petworth, GU28 0ES.
For further information, phone Martin Eldridge on 01243 786211.
For the full feature, and profiles of some of Petworth’s firefighters, see this week’s Observer (June 26).