Midhurst firefighters to oppose cuts

C140219-10 Mid Fire Drill phot kate''Attatching the hoses..Picture by Kate Shemilt.C140219-10 SUS-140218-131655001
C140219-10 Mid Fire Drill phot kate''Attatching the hoses..Picture by Kate Shemilt.C140219-10 SUS-140218-131655001

MIDHURST firefighters are launching a campaign to keep two fire engines in the town.

The move comes in the wake of proposals by West Sussex Fire and Rescue to axe the second pump as part of a new round of financial cuts to the service budget.

The latest announcements are part of a package 
of proposals across 
the county aimed at saving £1.6m.

They include taking the second engine from not only Midhurst but also from Petworth and Storrington, leaving one fire engine and a 4x4 at each station.

A report outlining the proposals says the second fire engine went out to only 28 calls from Midhurst in 2012-2013 compared with 214 attended by the first engine.

Midhurst firefighters have circulated dozens of posters now displayed in shop widows, urging members of the public to get behind their campaign: ‘Support your local firefighters, say ‘no’ to the proposed reduction in fire cover in your area’.

Town councillors have already had an informal meeting with the town’s firefighters.

Now they have invited a senior officer from the West Sussex Fire and Rescue service to address their next full council meeting on June 16 to explain the proposals.

Firefighters in Midhurst waged a long and hard fought battle to gain the second fire engine many years ago.

With many more new homes already built and more planned including the former Edward VII hospital and on the Syngenta site at Fernhurst, they claim it is vital to keep it.

The area covered by the fire station 
also contains several crash ‘hotspots’, particularly along the A272 and northwards along the A286.

Midhurst firefighters are in the unique position of providing cross-county-border cover for Surrey in the Haslemere area and for Hampshire on the boundaries at Liphook, Petersfield, Liss and Harting.

The report says the first fire engine at Midhurst is very rarely ‘off the run’ – only two per cent of the time.

By contrast, it was reported: “The second fire engine is more frequently unavailable – continuing the trend of the last few years. The most frequent reason was insufficient crew for two appliances and or no supervisor, particularly in daytime hours.”

Public consultation began on Monday and runs until August 23.

Full copies of the consultation document will be available at West Sussex libraries and district council offices. Electronic copies, and all the supporting technical documentation, is available on www.westsussex.gov.uk/fire