It is very good to see that replacement fire engines are being provided by the county council.
Unfortunately any benefits are limited and in no way compensate for the Council’s cuts to fire engines and firefighters in Crawley. Before 2010 there were five fire engines and crews in the borough, now there are just two.
Before 2010, at least two simultaneous emergencies could be dealt with by those resources. Now, when there is a building fire in the town, anyone else needing help in Crawley has to wait for help to arrive from towns several miles away. Simultaneous calls are not uncommon, especially in Crawley, and the delayed response to those calls increases the risk to life and to property.
Mr Barling should remember the words of his predecessor, Lionel Barnard, ‘it is not fire engines that put fires out, it is firefighters’. Not only has the total number of firefighters in Crawley been drastically cut, but the number on each fire engine has been cut. That significantly restricts what they can do, until more fire engines and firefighters arrive, and it also reduces firefighter safety.
Replacing fire engines with ones fitted with the latest technology is to be welcomed, but our safety also depends on sufficient fire engines and firefighters being available. County council cuts and their failure to ensure that all fire engines are crewed around the clock has made West Sussex, and Crawley in particular, less safe.
Tony Morris, West Sussex Fire & Rescue Stop the Cuts
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