Four-year action plan for fire service in West Sussex adopted

West Sussex Fire and Rescue. Pic Steve Robards SR1817300 SUS-180108-084305001
West Sussex Fire and Rescue. Pic Steve Robards SR1817300 SUS-180108-084305001

A new four year plan outlining what West Sussex’s fire and rescue service will do to make the county safer has been adopted.

Following a six-week consultation, the Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) 2018-22 has been produced.

The IRMP, which is a document required by Government, assesses the risks in the communities of West Sussex, how the service will prevent and protect its communities from fires, and how it plans to respond when fires and other emergencies occur.

However the plan has proved controversial with opposition members at West Sussex County Council, who criticised the level of detail available and raised safety fears about reducing standard crewing on fire engines from five to four, and in certain situations allowing appliances to be crewed by fewer than four firefighters where necessary.

Gavin Watts, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service’s chief fire officer, said: “We are constantly looking to improve the service to ensure we provide the best possible outcomes for the people we serve.

“This plan sets out how we will work with the other blue light services and the county council to drive our continuous improvement.

“While there will continue to be changes for all of us within the service, what remains is the commitment of the women and men who dedicate themselves to serving their communities.

“Our organisation is built upon well-trained, resourceful and compassionate individuals, and we are committed to providing our team with the best training, equipment and support.”

The document includes:

• How the service will reduce risks through safe and well visits, school visits and other training

• How it will protect the community with safer public spaces, fire safety inspections and enforcement

• The response to emergency incidents, including fires, road traffic collisions, floods and more

• How it will address the challenges in delivering a highly trained, inclusive and diverse workforce, including the recruiting and retaining of on-call firefighters

• How it will ensure everything they do is as efficient as possible and delivers what communities need

• How it will work with other organisations to achieve aims.

Debbie Kennard, cabinet member for safer, stronger communities, said: “Our fire service continues to face a number of challenges, but I remain confident that the service will continue to deliver a high class prevention, protection and response service to the communities of West Sussex.

“They are an integral part of our council, and I recognise that effective partnership and collaboration is the best way of providing effective services to our communities.

“I am fully behind the service as it works with others to deliver the objectives that the fire and rescue authority has set.”