petition regarding Surrey County Council’s plans to leave seven major fire
appliances un-crewed at night had received
13,048 signatures via the Council’s e-petition facility and
on behalf of the lead petitioner Mr Paul Couchman, Mr Lee Belsten
from the Fire Brigades Union and Save Our Services in Surrey, was
invited to address the meeting.
He made the following
- Asked the
Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Fire and Resilience to explain
why the petition was dismissed as having a ‘narrow
petition was not ‘out of context’ as it was based on
question six of the consultation which stated ‘to what extent
do you disagree/agree with the Surrey Fire and Rescue Service
maintain the number of fire stations and fire engines in Surrey but
changing how Banstead, Egham, Camberley are crewed at
night?’. To which only 18% of the 1687 respondents agreed
with the question.
- Not one on-call fire
engine could consistently achieve the response standard that the
Cabinet Member had outlined previously. The current average across
all on-call fire stations was 49% compared to the targeted response
standard of 80%.
- The low response
figures was due to many on-call firefighters being mobilised from
their homes which took an average of 6-8 minutes to get to stations
- The average response
standard was 75% across the County based on twenty wholetime fire
engines, two variably crewed fire engines and up to ten on-call
fire engines. The response standard could not be maintained nor
improved with seven less fire appliances and the plans would not
make Surrey safer.
addition to the Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Fire and
Resilience’s response in the supplementary agenda, she made
the following comments:
Thanked Mr Couchman and Mr Belsten for the
Praised the work of the cross-party Surrey Fire and Rescue Service Transformation Working
Group and the Communities, Environment and Highways Select
Committee on the Making Surrey Safer Plan – the
Council’s Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) which was
approved by Cabinet
- The petition focussed on a small part of plan, not taking into
consideration the increase in community and business safety
activities through ensuring live saving
the fire authority, the Council was required by law to produce an
IRMP, the last was published in 2016 and risks have since changed.
Surrey’s roads were carrying double the national average of
traffic, there was an increased risk of flooding, an ageing
population, drug and alcohol dependency and around 85,000 premises
were covered by Surrey’s fire legislation - including care
- The new risks were included in the Community Risk Profile (CRP)
based on ten years of predicted and five years of current data,
towards a more accurate model of risks within the Making Surrey
Safer Plan. The CRP was externally and rigorously verified by the
National Fire Chief’s Council through an assurance panel with
a wide range of stakeholders and organisations.
- The Council removed £6 million of savings targets in
autumn 2018, following the appointment of Surrey’s Chief Fire
Officer to re-model the service and to address the findings of the
2018 HMICFRS inspection to meet new legislation following the
Grenfell tragedy and to work on prevention and
- Approximately £1 million of additional funding was
provided by the Council to support the transformation of the Surrey
Fire and Rescue Service.
twelve-week public consultation on the service which ended in May
2019 and of the 1,800 respondents many were broadly supportive of
- The Council would maintain and meet the response standard, with
the first appliance responding to incidents within ten minutes and
the second within fifteen minutes for 80% of the time.
- Resources were re-aligned to cover greater risks in the
day-time, shifting capacity from the night-time and Surrey’s
current fire stations would be maintained. Detailed modelling
showed that twenty fire engines were needed in the day and sixteen
at night; instead the Council would have twenty-five in the day,
thirty on weekend days and twenty-three at night.
- Crew availability would be increased at Haslemere and Walton,
cover would be changed at Camberley, Fordbridge, Guildford and
Woking to one appliance at night from two. Egham, Banstead and
Painshill where cover would come from a neighbouring
increased number of on-call firefighters would be achieved through
enlarging the qualifying catchment area and making the role more
accessible. Some incidents would be charged for, such as false fire
alarms and animal incidents.
- New work practices, continuingly evolving technology and
increased training since March 2019, saw improved day-time response
rates by fifty to sixty-four seconds and night-time responses by
fifty-five to eighty-eight seconds. Lastly, 82 new firefighters had
been employed since September 2018.
- Urged the Council to support the recommendation as follows [can
you add it in here please].
Members made the following points:
- Greater public safety information was welcomed but
would not mitigate the risks of having reduced cover and many
residents were not broadly supportive of the reduction.
- If the changes were not financially driven, the
Council should listen to the firefighters and professionals on the
frontline, - as Members were not experts on fire matters - that
increasing the response time after an emergency and the reduction
in fire appliances would increase the risks to lives.
- The Council was not
dismissive of residents’ concerns and it must note the
HMICFRS report in 2018 which outlined concerns over
the ability of the Surrey Fire and Rescue Service in keeping people
safe and the efficient use of its resources.
Surrey Fire and Rescue Service Transformation
Working Group noted the decline by a third in
the number of firefighters since 2011 and produce a unanimously
agreed report recommending that more firefighters were recruited by
2020 and performance would be rigorously monitored.
The removal of the seven fire appliances would be a
saving of £2 million and it was queried where that money
would be spent.
Removing those fire appliances would increase the
time it would take to respond to the average fire in Surrey,
increasing the risks to lives and the damage caused. A Member asked
that the ratio between prevention time and risks be
accordance with Standing Order 28.1, Mr Robert Evans requested a
recorded vote to be taken on the recommendation within the Cabinet
Member’s response to the petition. The Chairman agreed to Mr
following Members voted for it:
Angell, Ms Azad, Mrs Bramhall, Mr Brett-Warburton, Mr Carasco, Dr
Chapman, Mrs Clack, Mrs Curran, Mr Deach, Mr Tim Evans, Mr Few, Mr
Furniss, Mr Goodman, Dr Grant-Duff, Mr Gulati, Mr Hall, Mrs
Hammond, Mr Harmer, Mr Harris, Mr Hawkins, Miss Heath, Mr Hussain,
Mrs Iles, Mr Islam, Mr Kemp, Mr Knight, Rachael I. Lake, Mrs Lay,
Mrs Lewis, Mr McIntosh, Mr Mansfield, Mr Martin, Mrs Mooney, Ms
Morley, Mrs Muir, Mr Nuti, Mr Oliver, Mr O’Reilly, Dr Povey,
Mr Ramsdale, Mr Samuels, Mrs Steeds, Mr Taylor, Ms Thomson, Ms
Turner-Stewart, Mr Walsh, Mr Witham.
the following Members voted against it:
Bennison, Mr Cooksey, Mr Essex, Mr Robert Evans, Mr Forster, Mr
Goodwin, Mrs Goodwin, Mr Harrison, Mr Lee, Mr MacLeod, Mr Mallett,
Mrs Mason, Mr Spence, Mr Townsend, Mrs Watson.
following Members abstained:
Botten, Mr Darby, Mr Gardner, Mr Kington.
Therefore the recommendation was supported by 47 votes to 15
against, 4 abstentions.
That the Council noted that
Cabinet approved the Making Surrey Safer Plan and that Members
would continue working with the Fire and Rescue Service during its