Sussex

Meeting over West Sussex fire station plans

Findon Fire Station
Image caption The restructuring proposals would also see Findon Fire Station close

Plans to axe one of a West Sussex town's two fire engines are to be discussed at a special meeting.

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (WSF&RS) wants to reduce the number of engines at Lancing Fire station as part of restructuring plans to save £1.2m.

The service said the changes would improve the overall service but the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has claimed they will hit safety.

Under the plans Worthing will provide a second engine if required.

The county fire officer will present the proposals at Lancing Parish Council later.

'Cost-cutting exercise'

The restructuring proposals would also see Findon, Bosham and Keymer, which are manned by part-time firefighters, close and cover improved at Burgess Hill and Littlehampton, and a new fire station and training centre built at Broadbridge Heath, Horsham.

Sean Ruth, deputy county fire officer for WSF&RS, said: "What we've put together is what we think is a balanced package of proposals which will improve the service right across West Sussex.

"To do that we're moving resources into areas of high risk and reducing areas of low risk and low activity."

He added: "However if we are moving pumps away from stations such as Lancing we have done a lot of research analysis to ensure we have good back up and that pumps can get there just as quickly as they can now in Lancing.

"I can reassure people that their safety will not be put at risk by these proposals."

Frank Bishop, of the FBU, said: "These are cost-cutting exercises. If they didn't have to save the money they wouldn't be taking away these fire engines.

"There's a direct link between the amount of time it takes for the firefighters to get to the fire and the chance of surviving the fire so it's extremely important to get sufficient weight and speed of response to the fire and removing a fire engine cannot possibly help that."

The proposals are open for public consultation until 8 October, with a final decision being made in November.

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