Staffing cuts hit Uckfield fire service provision

Budget and staffing cuts have started to affect fire service provision in the Uckfield area, according to watch manager Ian Ritchie.fire_modern_engine

Ian, who writes fortnightly reports for about calls attended by the fire service locally said two incidents were affected by the cuts.

One was on Friday at 4pm when an Uckfield crew was sent to cover Haywards Heath. As they headed for West Sussex they were asked instead to attend a serious house fire near Horam where they worked with firefighters from Heathfield, Herstmonceux, Battle and Eastbourne to control the fire which caused severe damage.

Two days earlier on Wednesday, March 11, firefighters were called into action from home after an automatic fire alarm went off at a remote property in Duddleswell.

Mr Ritchie said the incident occurred at 6.20pm, a time when crews used to be on station ready to provide an immediate response. In this case, following budget and firefighter cuts, which resulted in changes to the duty system, the firefighters had to be called in from home.

On arrival they found the property smoke-logged and wore breathing apparatus to extinguish a fire, involving an oil-fired AGA, which was starting to spread to the kitchen units.

Mr Ritchie said: “Importantly for the occupier, who was out at the time, their fire alarm system was linked to a call centre and raised the alarm quickly.”

He said other calls in the past fortnight included:

Tuesday, March 3: One crew dealt with a chimney fire at a property in Chiddingly at 5.15pm and undertook a home safety visit offering the resident fire safety advice.

Thursday, March 5: An Uckfield crew provided fire cover in Crowborough while the Crowborough station’s large animal rescue unit attended an incident.

Saturday, February 7: A child was released by firefighters at 7.45am after becoming locked in a room at an Uckfield property.

At 2.30pm there was a call to a ‘fire in the open’ on the Uckfield by-pass but nothing was found.

At 2.45pm the town’s bulk Water Carrier was mobilised to Penhurst near Battle to assist at a barn fire.

Sunday, February 8: The accidental operation of a low level panic button in a lift saw one crew attend a block of sheltered accommodation flats in Uckfield at 2.40pm on the assumption that somebody was shut in the lift which was found to be empty.

Monday, March 9: While covering Crowborough as their crew trained at Maresfield, Uckfield firefighters were sent to a road accident at 12.15pm in the narrow lanes near Rotherfield.

A young car driver had a lucky escape as her car turned onto its side as she tried to avoid a collision with a van. The vehicles ended up wedged together against the high verges and both drivers escaped with minor injuries. Firefighters undertook first aid until an ambulance arrived.

Friday, March 13:  At 5.15pm, on the same day of the Horam fire mentioned above, Uckfield’s second appliance was sent to deal with a chimney fire at a house on the Manor Park estate before also being sent on to Horam as part of a seven-pump attendance.

Uckfield firefighters have also attended calls to fire alarms sounding in Uckfield, Maresfield, Forest Row and Lower Dicker.

Home safety visits, designed to raise awareness of safety matters in the home, are always available across the local communities. These visits include the fitting of free smoke alarms where required and are undertaken by firefighters from your local fire station.

For free home safety advice ring 0800 177 7069 or visit Home Safety Visits.

See also:

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