Will Uckfield’s ‘go to’ firefighters be here when we need them, asks Observer

Our independent columnist worries about fire cover in Uckfield, becomes poetic over the trains and thinks a campaign to keep Uckfield shoppping during any High Street roadworks is a good idea.

Have fire engine, will travel. That could well be the motto of Uckfield firefighters who seem to be deployed far and wide these days.

A report on this website earlier this week revealed an Uckfield crew fought a farm fire at Plumpton while a crew from Brighton provided cover in Uckfield.


It rather seems as if East Sussex Fire and Rescue is having to move resources around on a regular basis to plug gaps left by a shortage of retained firefighters.

Getting and keeping retained firefighters has long been a problem for fire brigades across the country.

The days have gone when men (and in more recent times) women lived and worked in the vicinity of the fire station. There is also a the question of an employer being willing to see a member of staff disappear out of the door at what could be a crucial time for the business.

It will always be an uphill struggle to recruit and I can offer no solutions.

Fire prevention over the last 50 years has worked and the number of blazes is a small proportion of what it once was. I’m not so sure there has been a similar fall in road accidents.

However, it is a concern that Uckfield appears to be the “go to” crew to cover a vast area of East Sussex, even spreading their wings over the border to Mid Sussex.

I hope the day does not come when there is a major blaze in Uckfield and “our crew” are out of town and the replacement stand-by crew are fighting their way through traffic in Brighton to get here.

The fire service is an insurance policy for the country. It looks to me like East Sussex Fire and Rescue is cutting its cover pretty thin.

TRAINS: Services this week have again left a lot to be desired. Southern’s resilience is near rock bottom so any incident leaves the Uckfield Line in tatters. Sitting marooned earlier in the week, I was reminded of the Longfellow poem:

When she was good,  She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad, She was horrid

Sums our train service pretty well.

ROADWORKS: I like the idea of a sustained campaign to keep people shopping in Uckfield while the roadworks are carried out. No doubt there will be some nit-picking rule which will prevent the county council chipping in some money to support any such venture.

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