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Fire engine to be removed from Horley next April
11:02am Wednesday 17th October 2012 in Local News
Fire chiefs in West Sussex have said they will remove their fire engine from Horley next April.
The long-anticipated decision came last week with West Sussex County Council backing fire service budget plans drawn up by West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (WSFRS) to save £2.5 million.
Amongst a raft of changes in the plans, crews from Horley will be moved to merge with colleagues at Horsham Fire Station, and the town's fire engine will be removed from April 1. Surrey County Council has said Surrey firefighters will then take over.
It has said Surrey Fire and Rescue Service is working with it at the moment to draw up plans that will provide continued fire cover for the area.
It said local residents will be consulted on the plans later this year. But the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has cautioned about possible knock-on effects for both fire services should they need to call on each other for back-up in the area.
Mick Cambers, FBU chairman for West Sussex, called the cuts “frustrating” and said: “There will be less available staff for Surrey to call on.
“Horsham is quite a few miles away, which takes time to travel.
“Another whole-time pump being further away from Surrey is not good news.”
He said: “It all depends on how Surrey are going to spread their resources around that area.
“The responsibility is being pushed on them.”
He said: “We've got the M23 and the airport in that area and we're just moving resources that could potentially help in major road traffic collisions and Gatwick incidents, so it's worrying but it's the nature of the beast at the moment with these cuts.
“Horley was ideally situated for that.”
Currently, WSFRS operates on a largely historic model that has seen little change over the years, and its area includes the Horley station in Povey Cross Road.
The station is home to the service's acclaimed Technical Rescue Unit (TDU), one of an elite number of units around the UK which are called upon in cases of international disaster, such as earthquakes. Recently, a spokesman for WSFRS said Surrey has the statutory duty for providing fire cover and services in Horley.
He said Surrey currently contributed about £75,000 a year towards Horley Fire Station's running costs, while the cost to WSFRS of maintaining the station was about £1.2 million a year.
He said out of the approximately 500 calls a year to Horley Fire Station, more than half were into the Surrey area.
A statement from WSFRS outlining the changes next April said: “Horley Fire Station is located just within the West Sussex county border, although the majority of the 500 calls it received in 2011 to 2012 were into Surrey.
“Surrey County Council has statutory responsibility for providing fire and rescue services within their county border, which includes Horley town centre. “Gatwick Airport has its own Fire and Rescue Service for emergencies at the airport.”
The statement continued: “Under these proposals, the fire engine at Horley will be relocated to Horsham to improve our response in the north and central areas of West Sussex.”
But it added: “The WSFRS Technical Rescue Unit, whose team members respond to incidents in the UK or overseas - for example, the earthquake in Haiti and the tsunami in Japan - will still be based at Horley Fire Station.”
The statement concluded: “Discussions are ongoing with Surrey Fire and Rescue Service to ensure an appropriate risk-based service is maintained to people in Horley. “WSFRS will continue to support Surrey FRS in meeting their statutory responsibilities.”
Surrey County Council’s cabinet member for community safety, Kay Hammond, said: “We've been talking to the council and fire service in West Sussex about the Horley fire station decision and we're currently looking at options that will ensure continued cover in the area.”
Coun Hammond said: “Horley residents have always received an excellent service and local people can be assured this will continue under Surrey's watch.”