Surrey Fire and Rescue Service Consultation | What's in Esher

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service Consultation

fire engine 500 - Surrey Fire and Rescue Service Consultation

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service Consultation

Making Surrey Safer Plan 2020 – 2023

Another day, another Council consultation.

This time its Surrey County Council who (via their dedicated Consultation Hub ‘Surrey Says’) now have no less than 33 open consultations).

This consultation is all to do with Surrey Fire and Rescue Service’s (SFRS) ‘Making Surrey Safer Plan’, only takes a few minutes to complete and has various (optional) questions about the respondent and demographics in addition to the 5 (required) questions about SFRS priorities and resources – the consultation is open till the 26th of May.

The Making Surrey Safer Plan is a document that the Fire Authority (Surrey County Council) is required to produce to show what they do, why they do it, and what their plans are for the future.

My own, perhaps cynical, view is such consultations are always phrased in such a way as to merely attribute a public ‘rubber stamp’ on decisions that have already been made.

The questions rarely cover what would be of most concern to residents:

‘Do you agree we should cut our night time provision from some Fire stations?’

But rather:

‘To what extent do you agree or disagree that SFRS should spend more time on community and business safety to help prevent incidents occurring in the first place?’

Again, my view is that all the public care about is feeling safe and confident that if they witness or experience a fire emergency a Fire Engine will arrive to deal with the situation VERY quickly – talk of ‘Risk Based Approach’ is great but should be something managed internally and not put to the public.

Read on for the ‘Making Surrey Safer Plan’ in full, some highlights that caught my eye (charging for rescuing trapped annimals and reducing crew coverage at a number of Surrey Fire Stations, and a response from the Fire Brigades Union at the end of the post.

The Consultation Hub page offers the following explanation why they are consulting:

“In this plan we take into account factors that affect the way we can run Surrey’s fire and rescue service, like the budget we are given, the population of Surrey and how the types of calls we respond to are changing.

Why We Are Consulting

We want to provide the best service that we can to all residents in Surrey and continue to prioritise responding quickly to emergencies. We also need to ensure that we adapt to meet the needs of our community, Government legislation, changing risks and improve our service.

We also want to change the way we do things to respond to the outcomes from our recent Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services inspection. This highlighted areas we need to work on to continue to keep people safe from fires and other risks. We want to make sure our staff and resources are in the right place, at the right time and to shift our focus to preventing emergencies occurring in the first place by investing in community and business safety. We will also focus on improving our workplace culture.

We believe that by changing how we currently work, we could free up time and resources to do much of this activity.”

You can get to the Making Surrey Safer Consultation herebut before you do please take a moment to read on to make sure you are clear on the context of the questions that you are being asked…

In the interests of balance we got in touch with the administrators of the ‘Esher Fire Station – unofficial‘ Facebook page to get a rank and file view of these proposals.

They didn’t hold back…

“Surrey County council seem to have lost the plot.

Cutting fire cover at night is extremely concerning and seems to indicate the council does not understand the concept of risk. This is precisely the time when the worst fires and most fire deaths occur.

In the interest of public safety all residents need to object to these cuts.

How management can say that they are “Making Surrey Safer” by cutting pumps is not only misleading but dangerous, it really isn’t rocket science.

Esher for example, will have a huge station ground if these cuts are allowed to happen.

Walton retained is quite often not available at night due to staff shortfalls meaning that Esher would have to cover their own ground, Painshills ground, Waltons ground and part of Sunburys old ground due to the station closing imminently.

If a small incident were to happen in the staines area it would mean that spelthornes cover would be committed to that incident, anything in the spelthorne area would then have to wait for Esher or chertsey (if it were not already at that incident) to attend, meaning that any response would be significantly affected.

Meaning that Esher’s now extremely large area, would have to wait for an appliance from even further afield if an incident were to occur at the same time.”

We have also published a press release from the Fire Brigades Union in response to this further down the post.

fire buckets 500 - Surrey Fire and Rescue Service Consultation

A row of 4 vintage fire buckets on the wall of the old railway signal box on the Tarka Trail at Instow, North Devon, England

But what does the Making Surrey Safer Plan actually say?

Links to the original and Full and Summary versions can be found at the end of this post.

Before I go into the full details of the plan, I want to highlight a couple of points that I feel confident Surrey residents would be interested in:

“To recover costs from some non-emergencies to re-invest in SFRS.
We are sometimes called to incidents that are not emergencies, such as freeing trapped animals and persistent false automatic fire alarms.
We may charge for some services such as persistent false alarms and animal rescues…”

To maintain the number of fire stations in Surrey and change how some of them are crewed.
Changes are proposed in the Banstead, Camberley, Egham, Fordbridge, Guildford, Haslemere, Painshill, Walton and Woking areas.”

Proposed Crew and Vehicle Placement

These are the stations that will have their crewing changed as part of the ‘Making Surrey Safer Plan’:

Banstead Fire Station:

From: 
One ‘Wholetime’ crew located at the fire station ready to respond 24/7.
To: 
One ‘Day’ crew based at the fire station during the day, ready to respond to incidents.

Camberley Fire Station:

From: 
Two ‘Wholetime’ crews located at the fire station ready to respond 24/7.
To:  
One ‘Wholetime’ crew located at the fire station ready to respond 24/7.
One ‘Day’ crew based at the fire station during the day, ready to respond to incidents.

Egham Fire Station:

From:
One ‘Wholetime’ crew located at the fire station ready to respond 24/7.
To:
One ‘Day’ crew based at the fire station during the day, ready to respond to incidents.

Fordbridge Fire Station:

From: 
Two ‘Wholetime’ crews located at the fire station ready to respond 24/7.
To:  
One ‘Wholetime’ crew located at the fire station ready to respond 24/7.
One ‘Day’ crew based at the fire station during the day, ready to respond to incidents.

Guildford Fire Station:

From: 
Two ‘Wholetime’ crews located at the fire station ready to respond 24/7.
One ‘On Call – available nights and weekends’.
To:  
One ‘Wholetime’ crew located at the fire station ready to respond 24/7.
One ‘Day’ crew based at the fire station during the day, ready to respond to incidents.
One ‘On Call – available nights and weekends’.

Haslemere Fire Station:

From:
One ‘Variable’ crew based at fire stations between 0700 – 1900 hours. During the night time, on-call firefighters respond.
One ‘On Call – available nights and weekends’.
To:
One ‘Day’ crew based at the fire station during the day, ready to respond to incidents.
One ‘On Call – available nights and weekends’.

Painshill Fire Station:

From:
One ‘Wholetime’ crew located at the fire station ready to respond 24/7.
To:
One ‘Day’ crew based at the fire station during the day, ready to respond to incidents.

Walton on Thames Fire Station:

From:
One ‘Variable’ crew based at fire stations between 0700 – 1900 hours. During the night time, on-call firefighters respond.
One ‘On Call – available nights and weekends’.
To:
One ‘Day’ crew based at the fire station during the day, ready to respond to incidents.
One ‘On Call – available nights and weekends’.

Woking Fire Station:

From: 
Two ‘Wholetime’ crews located at the fire station ready to respond 24/7.
To:  
One ‘Wholetime’ crew located at the fire station ready to respond 24/7.
One ‘Day’ crew based at the fire station during the day, ready to respond to incidents.

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Here is the Making Surrey Safer Plan in full as published.

Links to original full and summary documents can be found at the end of this section.

Foreword

Welcome to our Plan

Fire and rescue services in England are experiencing a period of great change to make sure that every pound of your money invested in us, adds maximum value to your communities. The government’s fire and rescue reform agenda sets out a clear direction of travel and highlights the challenges we will face in this journey. This is reinforced by a new statutory inspection regime which checks on our improvement progress, and a refreshed Fire and Rescue National Framework for England which explains how our work is changing, in particular the number of fires that we are called to is dramatically reducing.

Surrey County Council, our Fire and Rescue Authority, has set out a new vision for Surrey in 2030, placing greater emphasis on prevention, services for vulnerable people, and the need for greater collaboration with partners.

Fire and rescue services play a crucial role in making our communities safer, whether it be preventing and protecting people from fire and other risks, or responding swiftly to the emergencies that occur.

Our HMICFRS Inspection last year highlighted that Surrey Fire and Rescue Service are not doing enough to protect people or prevent emergencies from happening, so we will need do more of this in the future. We also need to ensure that we are providing an efficient, effective, accountable and transparent service that is reflective of the diverse community we serve.

Most significantly, our plan sets out how we intend to refocus our resources to increase our work with communities and businesses to prevent emergencies from happening, whilst also responding more efficiently when they do, with the aim of leaving no-one behind.

We are confident that the proposals set out in this plan will ensure we are best placed to meet your expectations of a modern Fire and Rescue Service.

We are very interested in your views about this and encourage you to have your say.

Purpose of this plan

The Fire and Rescue National Framework for England requires fire and rescue authorities to produce an integrated risk management plan (IRMP). Our plan is called “Making Surrey Safer – Our Plan 2020-2023”.

The plan sets out our priorities to keep you safe in Surrey, improving how we deliver services to ensure our communities are safer, whether it be preventing and protecting people from fire and other risks, or responding swiftly and effectively to the emergencies that occur. It also is our plan for how the service responds to the changes and challenges we face.

Over the past decade we have seen a significant decrease – almost half – in the number of fires attended across the UK. This suggests that, as a society, we are becoming safer than ever from the risks and consequences of fire.

This decrease can be attributed to many factors, including in part the prevention and protection work that Fire and Rescue Services deliver day in, day out, up and down the country. We must continue to work hard to keep people, especially the most vulnerable in our communities, as safe from fire and other risks as possible.

In many cases, this means engaging effectively with other agencies to work together to better protect and improve the outcomes for these individuals.

Making Surrey Safer – Our Plan 2020-2023, amongst other things, sets out how we will respond to:

  • Surrey County Council’s Community Vision for Surrey in 2030. Surrey County Council is our Fire and Rescue Authority, and the Vision emphasises the need for prevention activities to improve outcomes for residents. The Fire and Rescue Service, along with Emergency Planning, sits within the Council’s Community Protection, Transport and Environment Directorate. The purpose of the Directorate is: ‘To enable safe, sustainable, connected and thriving communities now and in the future’.
  • Our recent HMICFRS inspection, highlighted areas we need to continue working on to make us more effective and efficient in the ways we keep people safe from fires and other risks, particularly how we use our resources to do so.

This plan sets out our proposals to:

  • Do more to prevent emergencies from happening in Surrey
  • Make sure we have the right resources in the right places at the right time to respond when you need us
  • Continuously look at ways that we can improve what we do so we are as effective and as efficient as we can be
  • Continue to strengthen our approach to collaboration with our partners
  • Invest in our people to make sure they have the best training and development and are as motivated as possible
  • Create a culture that is collaborative, inclusive and diverse so that we maximise our understanding of our communities’ needs

Our proposal

This document outlines our proposal and how we want our Fire and Rescue Service to operate. By working differently we can be more efficient and effective.

Our proposal means:

More prevention work to keep communities safe

When our firefighters and fire engines aren’t needed at 999 calls, we will be undertaking community safety work with you. Much of this is done during the day when people are at school, work, home and most active in the community, some of this will also be done by our night shifts.

More resilience and firefighter training

We need 20 fire engines during the day and 16 at night to keep Surrey safe. Our proposal would mean we have more fire engines than we need – five more during the day and seven more at night-time, this additional capacity allows extra resilience for larger and longer emergencies as well as training and practice in the increasing variety of emergencies we now respond to.

More on call firefighters

To be an on-call firefighter you need to live or work within four minutes of our on-call fire stations so you can get there quickly. This means it’s often difficult to recruit oncall firefighters, especially in Dunsfold and Gomshall. We are expanding the catchment area for firefighters in these areas so that we will attract more people to our service.

More investment in community safety

We want to be able to invest more money in prevention activity via our community safety service. The more prevention work we do, the less we will need to respond. By ensuring we have the right allocation of resources to meet the needs of Surrey, we can reinvest in prevention activity.
We are also looking at charging for some 999 calls such as false reports of fire (hoax calls & automatic fire alarms that aren’t real) and animal rescues, to re-invest into our service.

Our finances

The total budget for the fire and rescue service for 2019/2020 is £34.9m. The majority of this is spent on staffing.

Our Plan will change the amount we spend in some areas:

  • The increased resources needed to undertake the community and business safety activity will increase our expenditure in these areas by £1-1.5m per annum
  • The changes to our response model will reduce our expenditure by circa £3m per annum

Our commitments

To spend more time on community and business safety to help prevent emergencies occurring in the first place.

Why we are doing it

To educate people and businesses about the risks of fire and other emergencies, and how to prevent them.

What this means

We will prevent more emergencies occurring in the first place.

We will do more Safe and Well visits for vulnerable people.

We will deliver fire safety messages from school age to adulthood. We will work more closely with businesses, district and borough councils
and partners to improve business safety.

To maintain the number of fire stations in Surrey and change how some of them are crewed.

Why we are doing it

To manage our resources more efficiently and effectively, focusing resources to protect those at higher risk.

We aim to provide a service offer that is broader than solely ‘time to respond’ and recognise that the urban and rural response is different.

We will establish new measures based upon community and business safety activity (a core element of our future offer) as well as response.

What this means

Changes are proposed in the Banstead, Camberley, Egham, Fordbridge, Guildford, Haslemere, Painshill, Walton and Woking areas.

Further details are provided below.

To recover costs from some non-emergencies to re-invest in SFRS.

Why we are doing it

We are sometimes called to incidents that are not emergencies, such as freeing trapped animals and persistent false automatic fire alarms.
The introduction of the Localism Act 2011 increased the scope for recovering costs for emergencies we respond to that turn out to be non-emergencies.

What this means

We may charge for some services such as persistent false alarms and animal rescues and re-invest this in SFRS. We will balance our statutory obligations to ensure we act ethically, humanitarianly and maintain our values and standards.

Understanding Community Risks

Understanding our Risk

We use our Community Risk Profile (CRP) to assess all foreseeable fire and rescue related risks that could affect our communities in Surrey. This includes our biggest risks for the types of emergencies we respond to and other factors, including understanding where the most vulnerable people are. We use this information, alongside national and local statistics, to decide how best to allocate our resources to prevent these risks from happening, and plan how to best respond to them if they do. This also enables us to focus our prevention activities to the areas where they are most needed and have most impact.

Some risks require us to work with partners including other emergency services, health providers, local authorities and other partner agencies.

These come together through the Surrey Local Resilience Forum (SLRF) which prepares and plans for a range of emergencies across Surrey. We also use the Community Risk Register which highlights potential risks facing Surrey.

Risks associated with people

A number of factors might make someone more or less vulnerable to emergencies, particularly fire. We need to ensure that the people within Surrey are safe, we identify those that are most at risk and where we can, undertake prevention activity to reduce the risk.

The most vulnerable and at greatest risk of fire tend to have at least one of the following characteristics:

  • aged over 60
  • living alone
  • mobility issues
  • hearing loss
  • mental health issues
  • disability
  • drug or alcohol dependency
  • a smoker

There is a clear link between age and vulnerability, with many of the vulnerabilities listed being more likely to occur with age.

Additionally, Surrey has an aging population with over 82,000 residents being over 65 and living alone, a figure expected to rise by 34% by 2030. The number of people with alcohol and drug dependencies is also forecast to rise by 4% by 2030.

As more people are supported to live in their own home for longer, the risks increase for those who are vulnerable. For example, people with mobility issues may find it harder to self-rescue and may suffer from slips and falls.

Our prevention work needs to better focus on the most vulnerable in our county, through both prevention activity to reduce the risks to them, as well as help them understand what to do in an emergency.

Risks associated with places

We respond to a diverse range of risks in Surrey. They range from road traffic collisions to local fires to major disasters. As a Fire and Rescue Service we continue to work across the wide and diverse range of places we have in Surrey. Understanding the risks and learning from others to ensure we continue to minimise and prevent risks occurring in the first instance, always ready to respond if they do.

Surrey has a diverse range of buildings, each potentially have different risks. We have homes that are at risk of flooding and we also have a number of green spaces that may be at risk from wildfire. We have many listed buildings and heritage sites in the county, as well as a range of industrial and commercial buildings. We have manufacturing plants, fuel farms, laboratories and research sites.

The transport networks in Surrey are constantly developing. The county has around 3,452 miles of road which carry almost double the national average amount of traffic.

We have a number of small airfields within our borders, and Heathrow, Gatwick and Farnborough airports are close by.

Community Safety

Our Community and Business Safety strategy sets out how we try and prevent emergencies from happening. We use our Community Risk Profile to target our prevention activity where it will make the biggest difference. We aim to educate people about fire and other risks and how to prevent them. We also work with businesses to ensure that the buildings they use reach the required fire safety standards, we aim to make every contact with you count.

Our community safety activity focuses on a number of key areas:

  • Home environment- by providing support and advice regarding health, safety and wellbeing to help people live independently and safely.
  • On our roads within Surrey – we engage with young people to highlight the risks of dangerous or careless driving.

Work with partner agencies – we tackle social issues together in partnership and we have a responsibility to raise a concern when we see one.

We know that people with drug or alcohol dependency problems are at greater risk of having a fire. We support our partners with their work on preventing problematic drug and alcohol use

Preventing emergencies – community safety

We can do more to prevent emergencies from happening and reduce our community risks via the most appropriate resource.

We propose to:

  • Better integrate our fire stations and other premises into local communities for community use where appropriate
  • Create a ‘centrally led, locally delivered’ approach, that better aligns our teams with areas of risk within Surrey and develops consistency across the county in how we deliver our services to ensure we keep our residents as safe as possible
  • Improve the way we collect and share intelligence so we can better identify the people in our communities who are the most vulnerable and provide the right support to keep them safe
  • Broaden the kind of emergencies we aim to prevent so it is more than just fighting fires, and includes road, water and wildfire safety work
  • Do even more Safe and Well Visits for vulnerable people and expand the content to make every contact count and keep people as safe as possible in their homes
  • Introduce a ‘lifelong’ learning concept to deliver key safety advice and information throughout resident’s lives via schools, colleges and universities as well as adult learning centres and other organisations where groups of individuals meet up (particularly our known vulnerable groups).
  • Expand our Surrey Fire Volunteer Service
  • Work with partner agencies to drive down serious organised crime, where it aligns to our activity and the risks we intend to reduce.

Business safety

Our business safety activity focuses on supporting business and business owners within our community. We work with businesses to ensure that they have effective fire safety management to protect people and property. Our business safety activity also protects the safety of our firefighters, should they need to respond to a fire in that building, by understanding the risks of specific buildings before an emergencies
happens.

There are approximately 85,000 business premises in Surrey covered by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO). This is the main piece of legislation that we have a duty to enforce. The RRO puts the emphasis on the responsible person to comply with the law. We operate a ‘risk-based’ inspection programme based on protecting the most vulnerable and those that are at higher risk.

Our business safety team delivers advice in the workplace and targets the heart of the business community to support fire safety, arson prevention, false alarm reduction and the benefits of sprinklers. We also engage with businesses throughout the county through our Primary Authority Scheme (PAS). This is a statutory scheme available to businesses with a presence in more than one local authority area.

Preventing emergencies – business

We know that effective fire safety management makes buildings and people safer.

We think we can do even more of this work to make businesses in Surrey safer.

We propose to:

  • Do more to target high-risk business premises to ensure they are complying with the RRO and enforce compliance where necessary
  • Work more closely with district and borough councils to provide robust building consultation responses (planning regulations)
  • Introduce Local Competency Authorities to support the life of buildings through fire safety provisions
  • Increase our education work to improve businesses understanding of their legal requirements in relation to fire safety management and how to apply this in practice
  • Work more closely with partners to develop more resilient communities, helping to prevent emergencies from happening and helping residents and communities to know how to respond if they do happen.

Responding to emergencies

When we receive a 999 call, our Control Centre operators send fire and rescue personnel, vehicles and equipment to deal with the emergency.

The range of emergencies we attend is vast and is constantly changing. Examples include road traffic collisions, fires in homes and business premises, water rescues and wildfires. We also attend emergencies that turn out not to be emergencies, such as responding to
false reports of fire and helping to free trapped animals. These are instances that we may charge for in the future.

We operate from 25 fire stations, which include a range of staff shift systems, and the crewing of ‘special’ vehicles capable of activities a fire engine alone cannot achieve, for example water rescues.

We do not send a fire engine based upon the closest fire station to you. We want to get to you as quickly as possible so we send the closest and most appropriate resource to the situation, regardless of where they are based. This helps us get the right equipment to you as soon as we can.
We also have arrangements in place with neighbouring Fire and Rescue Services, other emergency services and partners, including voluntary groups, to manage significant emergencies as part of a multi-agency response, for example widespread flooding.

We are introducing improvements that will reduce the time it takes between a call coming in and our firefighters leaving the station. We believe this will help us to get resources to the scene of an emergency more quickly. Improving our measurement of this will tell us if we are being successful.

We need to modernise the way we measure our response service. Currently it is outdated and does not necessarily take account of a range and changing types of emergencies, the development of our rural and urban areas and the changes in road infrastructure. We aim to modernise this by utilising data and technology to assist us.

Our Mobilising and Response strategy sets out how we respond to emergencies.

Proposed crew and vehicle placement

We propose that crewing and vehicle placement across the county would change in order to ensure the right resources are in the right place when we need to respond to emergencies.

This will allow us to re-focus some resources to life saving community prevention activity instead.

crewing chart 750 - Surrey Fire and Rescue Service Consultation

How we worked out our proposal details

We have undertaken detailed risk analysis, using a range of information to work out our proposal for fire and rescue cover in Surrey. This has included data about previous 999 calls, predictive (demographic) data which shows us where those at highest risk are in Surrey and sites that are most at risk. We have also considered local and national statistics about fires and other emergencies, our own professional opinions and experiences and response modelling which has been externally verified.

From this risk analysis, we have concluded that we currently have more resources at night than we need.

We have used this information to inform us of the best way to manage risks, by allocating our resources to prevent emergencies from happening and also making sure we can respond to them when they do. This information informed our data modelling work, which took account of the last five years emergency response data, call-outs per station, critical emergencies hotspots; current and future provision requirements; the baseline number of fire engines that are required to provide a full response and meet safety requirements.

The modelling work carried out showed that in order to deliver an emergency response under normal circumstances, the service is required to provide the minimum number of appliances shown in column 2 below.

However, there will be times when we require more resilience to cover larger or longer emergencies and community protection and prevention activities, as well as release fire fighters for a wider variety of training activity than they undertake now. This is required because we now have less fires than we used to, and go to a wider range of emergencies,
meaning our staff have less experience of more things. Therefore we must increase our training to ensure staff are well prepared and confident to deal with the fuller range of emergencies effectively and efficiently. Our proposal in column 3 reflects this.

The national Health and Safety Executive are clear it is the responsibility of fire and rescue services to adequately prepare personnel to operate in high pressure, dynamical changing and dangerous situations.

crewing chart 2 600 - Surrey Fire and Rescue Service Consultation

This will ensure we have enough flexibility within our workforce to deliver an efficient emergency response alongside increasing our effectiveness in protection and prevention within our communities.

<ENDS>

Making Surrey Safer – Full Version

Making Surrey Safer – Summary Version

firefighters 500 - Surrey Fire and Rescue Service Consultation

LONDON – APRIL 9TH: The fire brigade attend an emergency in Tottenham on April 9th, 2015 in London, England, UK. London’s fire and rescue service is the busiest in the country

If you’re still with me, here is the press release from the Fire Brigades Union from last week:

Fire Brigades Union press release

Tuesday 12 March 2019

Firefighters slam “incomprehensible” further cuts to the fire service

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has branded proposed further cuts to Surrey fire and rescue service as “incomprehensible”, just months after a government inspection voiced “serious concerns” about the county’s fire and rescue service.

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service has experienced brutal cuts, with 131 firefighter positions slashed between 2010 and 2018 – a 17% reduction in the workforce. The proposed cuts would see a further 70 firefighter posts axed in the area, cutting numbers by 22% since 2010.

This follows a December 2018 report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) voicing “serious concerns” about the service’s effectiveness and efficiency in keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks.

Proposals from Surrey County Council would see drastic reductions to fire cover at night, with Egham, Painshill and Banstead fire stations closed at 18:00. Fire cover at Guildford, Woking, Camberley, and Fordbridge would be cut in half.

The drastic reductions to firefighter availability at night are under the guise of what the council calls “risk-based cover”, as more fires occur during the day than in the evening. But the FBU warns that, despite this, there is a far greater chance of fire deaths at night, as victims are often asleep.

Home Office figures show that, from 2017-18, 73% of all deaths from residential fires and 77% of all deaths from accidental residential fires occurred between the hours of 18:00 and 09:00.

Response times in the area have already suffered, with it now taking nine minutes and 13 seconds for a crew of four firefighters to arrive at a fire, the longest response time for Surrey on record. In 1994/5, it took just six minutes and 52 seconds to send a larger crew of five, showing the cumulative effect of decades of cuts to the service.

Lee Belsten, FBU Surrey brigade secretary, said:

“The council’s claim that these cuts are ‘risk based’ is ludicrous. Slashing night-time cover leaves the public exposed when they are most at risk of fatality. These proposals offer no improvement in public safety and do nothing to address how firefighters are supposed to keep themselves safe.

“Surrey received a damning report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate last year and consistently fails to achieve its agreed response time. It is incomprehensible that the council plans to respond to this situation with further brutal cuts.

“The residents of Surrey deserve better. The council have relentlessly cut life-saving public services, while increasing council tax year on year. The public are being short-changed; receiving a less effective, less efficient service, that costs more while leaving them at greater risk”.

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