Uckfield watch manager Ian Ritchie said there is a lack of available Retained Duty System (On Call) stations.
He said: “While some of these stations are short of personnel the current ‘Period of Transformation’ is directly affecting fire and rescue cover as the service prepares to implement staffing cuts by using the part-time staff to temporarily plug holes in whole-time staffing to the detriment of rural fire and rescue provision.”
Mr Ritchie added that the service had to save £9.3 million following cuts in Government grants as part of their ‘austerity’ measures. See also: ESFRS – Changing the Service.
Yesterday a crew from Uckfield attended a call to fire alarms sounding at Burwash Common at 9.30am then worked with firefighters from Eastbourne to free the occupant of a car following a collision at Hellingly.
Crowborough provided cover in Uckfield while the firefighters worked at Hellingly, leaving their own town with a ‘restricted’ level of fire cover.
Uckfield firefighters have also been called to Heathfield and Punnetts Town in the past fortnight.
Mr Ritchie gives more detail in his report here:
Wednesday, July 1: One crew from Uckfield attended a call to a bus alight on the A272 at Piltdown at 2.55pm. The driver had safely evacuated his passengers and a small fire in the engine compartment was extinguished with a hosereel.
At 5.10pm a crew attended a call to a smell of smoke and fire alarm sounding at flats in the High Street. The cause was found to be smoke from the chimney of the wood burning pizza oven from the restaurant below.
At 10.10pm a ‘fire in the open’ on the Church Coombe Estate was found to be a garden bonfire which was under control.
Thursday, July 2: One crew attended the scene of an accident near the Blackdown Roundabout on the bypass at 2.15pm to make the vehicles and the scene safe.
Sunday, July 5: Crews from Uckfield and Barcombe extinguished a fire involving the electrical intake of a farm in Isfield at 7.35am and handed the incident over to UK Power Network engineers.
Monday, July 6: A fire in a shed used to breed pheasants at a property in Fairwarp was caused by a faulty heat lamp at 1pm. Firefighters from Uckfield extinguished the fire and cut away the burnt flooring. No birds were harmed in the incident.
Smoke from a bonfire prompted a call to Maresfield at 8.30pm which proved to be a false alarm.
Tuesday, July 7: The minor injuries department at Uckfield Hospital was evacuated at 7.15pm after smoke appeared in the waiting room and set off the fire alarm. A somewhat overcooked pie in a staff kitchen was the cause.
Wednesday, July 8: Uckfield firefighters wore breathing apparatus to fight a tractor fire in a field at High Hurstwood at 5.55pm. Crews from Uckfield and Crowborough were unable to access the incident with a fire appliance and had to run hose out across a field, through trees, over a ditch and two barbed wire fences to get water to the fire before Crowborough’s Landrover arrived to assist.
Thursday, July 9: At 3.30pm one crew cleared up a petrol leak from a car in the town.
A fire in a ‘muckheap’ at a farm in Nutley was attended at 10pm by crews from Uckfield and Forest Row.
Friday, July 10: A crew was called to the Leisure Centre at 9.50am after a person had become locked in the toilets.
Back to the smouldering muckheap at Nutley at 3.30pm to damp down.
Saturday, July 11: A bonfire at a property in Fairwarp was extinguished by an Uckfield crew at 7.30pm.
At 11.50pm one crew carried out salvage work and isolated a water leak at a flooded property on the Rocks Park estate.
Monday, July 13: A run of calls highlighting the lack of available fire cover across Wealden began at 12.40pm when an Uckfield crew had to attend a call in Heathfield which was found to be ‘controlled burning’.
Crews from Uckfield and Battle attended a road traffic collision at 3.45pm between a lorry and a car at Punnetts Town. One adult and two children were left in the care of paramedics.
Tuesday, July 14: At 9.30am a crew from Uckfield attended a call to fire alarms sounding at Burwash Common.
Uckfield and Eastbourne crews unusually found themselves working together at 3pm to cut free the occupant of a car following a collision at Hellingly. Crowborough provided cover in Uckfield for the duration of the incident leaving their town with a ‘restricted’ level of fire cover.
Crews are having to travel longer distances to calls due to the lack of available Retained Duty System (On Call) stations. While some of these stations are short of personnel, the current ‘Period of Transformation’ is directly affecting fire and rescue cover as the service prepares to implement staffing cuts by using the part time staff to temporarily plug holes in wholetime staffing to the detriment of rural fire & rescue provision. The service has to save £9.3 million following cuts in Government grants as part of their ‘austerity’ measures. ESFRS-Changing The Service
During the past fortnight Uckfield firefighters have also provided cover in Crowborough and attended calls to fire alarms sounding in Uckfield, Buxted, Easons Green, Danehill, Heathfield and Burwash Common.
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
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