A ‘new-look’ fire service for Petworth

Petworth's new water carrier PICTURE BY STATION 45 PETWORTH @45Petworth SUS-150224-174310001
Petworth's new water carrier PICTURE BY STATION 45 PETWORTH @45Petworth SUS-150224-174310001

THE head of the fire and rescue service across the north of the downs has delivered his vision of the ‘new-look Petworth’.

At the last Petworth Town Council meeting, head of fire and rescue operations in the Chichester north area, Adrian Murphy, gave a presentation about how the service would be delivered in Petworth over coming months.

This comes after the announcement last year that Petworth would lose one of its engines in line with a service review.

Adrian was joined by Martin Eldridge, team leader in Petworth, and Rob Mapley, group manager.

He said: “The proposal is to put a new water carrier in Petworth. The proposals are not going to overwork the station.

“This is the new-look Petworth.

“We will also change the way we crew.

“This is one of the safest parts of West Sussex. It has half the activity of Midhurst station.

“The biggest challenge is keeping the station crewed up with volunteers.

“The team relies on employers in the day and it relies on families.

“We are posting six whole-time firefighters in Petworth, working Monday to Friday.

“They will start their days here. We are reducing the number of engines but trying to get more of them available. Midhurst is also having a fire engine removed.

“I’m trying to change the shape of the fleet to have really reliable pumps.

“No-one is dying in West Sussex because of slow response, they die because of other issues.

“Our agenda now is about prevention.

“It’s the firefighter that will rescue you and put the fire out.

“What matters is you get them quickly when you need them.”

However some people have still voiced doubts.

Councillor Tony Sneller said: “One of the concerns was it’s not just Petworth being cut, but it’s Midhurst and Storrington.

“It seems like the north of the downs is being gutted out.”

Former firefighter Tony Morris has launched a petition opposing changes to the service, obtaining 1,077 signatures.

He said: “The water carrier will come from Littlehampton to Petworth and is not as good a move as it first appears.

“If normal practice is followed, Petworth’s fire engine will accompany the water carrier to incidents across the county, which will leave the town uncovered.

“A quick check of the incidents where water carriers were used in 2013 and 2014 shows more incidents were closer to Littlehampton than to Petworth.”