Tuesday, 16 October 2012

ESFRS to host public meeting regarding proposed changes in Hastings

East Sussex Fire Authority is repeating its call for the public in Hastings to consider the key benefits it believes will be introduced if the proposed relocation of operational resources within the town and surrounding area is approved.

Public consultation on the proposals commenced on 14th September after the Fire Authority considered the findings of a comprehensive report regarding fire cover within Hastings Borough at its meeting on 13th September. The review had been commissioned by the Authority as part of its Community Risk Management process and was contained within its Medium-Term Plan 2011/12 - 2015/16.

The Fire Authority agreed to consult on the proposals to:

  • Relocate the Wholetime fire appliance from The Ridge Fire Station to Bohemia Road Fire Station.
  • Maintain the Retained Duty System and fire appliance along with the off road vehicle at The Ridge Fire Station.

The consultation is running for twelve weeks, with the results due to be considered by the Fire Authority at its meeting on 13th December 2012.

East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service (ESFRS) will be hosting a public meeting in Hastings on Wednesday 7th November, at which members of the public will have the opportunity to put any questions or concerns to Gary Walsh, Deputy Chief Fire Officer for ESFRS.

DCFO Walsh said: “At the meeting we want to explain to residents in Hastings what the key benefits are to the Hastings community if the proposed changes to service delivery are approved. It’s also an opportunity for us to clarify exactly what the changes would mean, answer any questions put to us and, hopefully, allay any concerns.

“We fully appreciate that people in Hastings, especially those living near The Ridge Fire Station, will naturally have some concerns about how the proposed changes may affect them. However, we would stress again that there are absolutely no plans to close The Ridge and no fire appliances are being removed from the Hastings Borough area.

“The main purpose of the Hastings Review was to determine whether our methods of fire cover could be improved in order to provide the best response to the most vulnerable areas and people in Hastings Borough.

“We want to ensure that the households defined as most at risk of fire can be responded to as quickly as possible and believe the proposed changes will achieve this improvement. We’ve always been open about the fact that, if they are approved, attendance times will increase for some of the outlying communities in Hastings Borough and the surrounding areas in Rother.

“However, we are confident these areas would still receive an operational response in line with our current Service standards and target response times. We believe that the benefits of the proposed changes far outweigh the negatives and will provide a more effective fire & rescue service to the most vulnerable areas of the community within Hastings.”

“There are over four thousand vulnerable households that the current Bohemia Road appliance can reach within eight minutes that The Ridge appliances cannot. Conversely, there are only a small number of households defined as being vulnerable that an appliance from The Ridge Fire Station can reach within eight minutes that Bohemia Road could not. We believe relocating an appliance to Bohemia Road makes sense and that, ultimately, it will help save lives.”

“An incident last Thursday (11th October) was a timely reminder of how the changes, if approved, would benefit a significant proportion of the local community. A fire occurred in Roosevelt Court, Stonehouse Drive, an area known to be of high risk. A fire engine from Bohemia Road Fire Station was there in 5:26 minutes and a fire engine from the Ridge Fire Station was there in 8:24 minutes. If the proposals were to go ahead two fire engines would attend together from Bohemia Road meaning two fire engines would arrive quicker to this area of high risk.”

“The full report and an Executive Summary can be found on our website – www.esfrs.org. The Executive Summary in particular contains a great deal of background information on the overall benefits of the proposed changes.”

“We welcome feedback and comments, which is the purpose of the public consultation, and would urge people to read all of the information provided before they respond. I also hope as many people as possible can make it to the meeting on November 7th.”

The meeting on November 7th is being held at The Hastings Centre, The Ridge, Hastings,TN34 2SA between 6.30pm and 8.30pm All are welcome.

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