Watch manager Ian Ritchie said appliances from the Bell Farm Road station were mobilised on 449 occasions during the year which included 97 calls to attend incidents in other areas of the county. The figure compares with 387 calls in 2014 and 647 in 2008.
Mr Ritchie said the most concerning increase was in road traffic collisions which almost doubled despite the efforts of the Safer Wealden partnership which aims to drive down road traffic related incidents through education and information.
Mr Ritchie continues:
The figures speak for themselves in that during 2015, 35% of Killed or Seriously Injured (KSI) road traffic incidents in East Sussex occurred on the roads of Wealden and accounted for 36% of all fatalities in the county. As a district, Wealden remains fifth nationally for KSI involving young drivers.
Mani Gilbert-King, borough commander for Wealden, made the reduction of KSIs one of her top priorities and employed a road safety community support advisor to research, pilot and implement additional community engagement for road safety across the borough.
East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service (ESFRS) was given the Safer Wealden Partnership lead on KSI reduction in 2013 and in partnership with Sussex Police wrote the strategic KSI reduction plan.
Mani re-established and chairs the Wealden Road Safety Action Group while the community support advisor, Kate Graham, co-ordinates a specially trained group of ESFRS Community Volunteers who work as the service’s Wealden Roads Watch Team.
As well as helping at events to offer safer road use advice and promote the use of Operation Crackdown the team are members of the Community Speed Watch Scheme and undertake roadside speed, seatbelt and mobile phone checks across the borough.
Kate is working closely with the Wealden District Council on a Safer Wealden Partnership road safety campaign which she describes as a “pioneering and innovative project which draws on insights from the behavioural sciences to improve the driving behaviours of road users”.
The project is being watched with interest by the National Behavioural Insights Team and will be launched in March under the title of “We’re Keeping an Eye on YOU”.
A wide variety of road safety information is available at ESFRS Road Safety advice
Uckfield station saw an increase in all call types with the exception of chimney fires and special service calls other than road traffic incidents. Calls for Uckfield crews to assist West Sussex FRS doubled highlighting the effect of the austerity measures as fire appliance availability becomes stretched across both counties.
When the figures and incident types are broken right down, they show that Uckfield and its surrounding communities remain a safe place to live but also highlight the strategic importance of the station due to its central location and its ability to support incidents countywide.