THIS IS A SERIOUS FIRE SAFETY ANNOUNCEMENT. FOR GODALMING AND THE SURROUNDING AREAS. STAINES FIRE STATION IS CLOSED YET AGAIN TONIGHT FROM 18.00 – 0.900 DUE TO HAVING INSUFFICIENT FIREFIGHTERS, THE SAME APPLIES TO BANSTEAD – CLOSED.
GUILDFORD, WOKING & CAMBERLEY ALL DOWN 50%.
LET’S ALL HOPE THAT THIS HEATWAVE DOESN’T PRODUCE HEATH FIRES!!
Surrey’s chief fire officer Russell Pearson, a man who wears his honours for “dedicated service to the emergency services” with pride has been thrown out of the service after resisting budget cuts.
That’s the claim of Fire Brigade Union’s after the highly respected chief officer who was featured in this year’s New Year’s Honours was ousted, just seven months later, from his job! Why? Because he warned that reducing fire cover would leave the county’s Fire & Rescue Services unable to protect US, the public.
Well done Dumb – you never let us down – you prefer to fritter away over £50m of Surrey taxpayer’s money on an unpopular retail development in Farnham that commercial backers wouldn’t touch with a bargepole – to compromise our safety wouldn’t you?
Perhaps you haven’t heard Dumber that more than 30,000 store chains in this country are in crisis? Facing such financial stress meaning many more businesses will follow the wave of store closures that are sweeping through our towns and cities – including wealthy Surrey! The very same stores in which you invested OUR money, preferring instead to put our lives at risk?
Recently you asked Surrey residents what their priorities were: We here at the Waverley Web believe – keeping us safe – is a top priority along with caring for the elderly and vulnerable children.
The FBU released a statement saying that Mr Pearson will no longer hold his 11-year position and the union fears he was “ousted” due to his stance on further service savings.
A Surrey County Council (SCC) spokesman said in response: “We cannot comment on speculation about individuals.”
“I am in no doubt that the only reason SCC would replace Russell Pearson is so they can get someone in to do a hatchet job, solely to make cuts without any regard to public or firefighter safety,” claims Richard Jones, executive council member for the FBU for the south-east.
“With emergency response times in Surrey at their slowest since 1996, the number of fires we attend and rescues we make increasing year on year since 2015, further cuts are absolutely absurd and show SCC is prioritising monetary savings ahead of public safety.”
In June last year firefighters and union members declared a motion of no confidence and one year on, this motion is still in place.
The FBU says that since 2010 more than £20 million has been saved from SFRS budget, and an additional £661,000 is expected to be saved this year alone.
According to SCC’s Medium Term Financial Plan, savings of £4.075 million and £1.8 million are expected in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
According to the FBU chairman Lee Belsten the service is now “dangerously close to the mark” and its frontline response and emergency control resources will be “decimated” if funding cuts continue.
He argued that staff shortages, as well as reduced resources, means all of Surrey’s fire stations are currently below 20 firefighters, response time remains up to 10% under target, on-call crew are 40% deficient and emergency control staff are up to 50% short.
Overall, the number of firefighters in Surrey have plummeted by 40%, claimed the FBU, resulting in numerous fire appliances being left unavailable in times of emergency because there are not enough firefighters to crew them.
However, a SCC spokesman says: “we have carried out a recruitment campaign and are making a significant investment to our new fire stations, equipment and vehicles to meet the needs of a modern fire service”.
‘Fire service on its knees’
Following the FBU statement on Mr Pearson, an anonymous firefighter said “Russell has been doing an amazing job fighting the cuts, there’s the suspicion that because he is not willing to support the cuts that’s one reason he’s been pushed to the side.
“He’s the right man for the job, he’s passionate about the fire service and doesn’t want to see it get any smaller. The fire service is on its knees, if they bring in any more cuts it will be a case of which station will they close next.
“They are relying on the goodwill of firefighters to come in on their days off. We don’t want the public thinking that we are letting them down, we just don’t have the resources.”
Another firefighter, who also did not wish to give their name, said:“I think the whole thing is disgusting, Russell has done nothing but work hard for the fire service.“If they’ve got rid of him because he doesn’t do what they want him to do, then that seems like an awful way to do things. He’s been pushing back against the cuts and, speaking from the front line, there’s nothing more that the fire service can give.”