Will you be closing fire stations?
No. All our 24 community fire stations remain open and operational under our plans.
Is it true that some areas will get a worse response?
We want to invest more in preventing emergencies and into building fire safety in areas which will reduce the need to call 999 in the first place, making our communities safer.
Our analysis shows these proposals will deliver a more efficient and effective service overall, across 999 emergency response and proactive community safety and business safety work. For example, the proposals will allow us to increase our minimum number of fire engines available from 15 to 18.
Our proposals are based on a comprehensive analysis of risk which means we have been able to identify areas where there is a degree of over-provision of resources which could be better used elsewhere.
Some of the proposals will result in a change to response times to certain areas under certain conditions. For example, the proposals to introduce changes in staffing arrangements on 6 of our “day crewed” stations, would mean we take potentially longer to attend during the daytime at the weekend in these station areas. However, our analysis shows this represents a very small number of incidents and that this proposal will therefore have a limited impact on community risk.
Where there is a change in response times, we have assessed these areas as low risk and low demand. These areas will be a focus for our community fire safety and education work, preventing fires occurring in the first place.
How many jobs/posts may be impacted? And what type of jobs?
It is important to remember these proposals are not focused on making cuts. They are focused on making sure we have a better balance of resources in our prevention, building fire safety and emergency response teams. The proposals allow us to move resources to other areas where they can do more good. For example, in increasing the availability of a number of fire engines and / or into increasing our capacity to undertake more community safety fire prevention and building fire safety activity.
The number of posts affected depends on what options are selected by the Fire Authority at its meeting in September, and on other decisions about where and how we could reinvest released posts and associated funding.
The types of posts which are impacted are all based on fire stations, from Firefighters to Watch Managers and will range between 35 and 42 posts in total over a five-year period. This is principally linked to the proposals around the “day crewed” system (proposal 2). This does not mean we will make compulsory redundancies.
We will look to use between eight and twelve of these posts to form a dedicated “flexible crewing pool”, which will increase our ability to improve fire cover and fire engine availability at key strategic locations around the Service area. If possible, we will look to use other posts released to improve our capacity to do more community safety fire prevention and building fire safety activity.
The changes can be made over the next five years without the need for compulsory redundancies, because of natural turnover and retirements.
Why go out for consultation now during Covid 19?
We absolutely recognise that starting a consultation at this time may feel very challenging for some, particularly as individuals are worried about health of their families, however the Fire Authority did consider this exact point when reaching a decision to start the consultation now.
The Fire Authority has a legal requirement to produce an Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) and our current plan covers 2017 until 2020, so we need a new plan.
Our Planning for the Future proposals, if agreed by the Fire Authority in September, will form our new Integrated Risk Management Plan 2020 – 2025.
Additionally, the Fire Authority has been made aware that postponing the consultation would mean significant delay to the Service’s ability to meet the potential financial challenges that lay ahead. There is significant uncertainty about our funding beyond 2020/21. The Government is planning to review how much it spends on public services, how much of this goes to the fire service, how this is divided between each fire authority and how much of this funding comes from business rates.
A recent external inspection report highlighted the importance of the need for this Service to balance risk and resources, and to better demonstrate how the IRMP influences our prevention, protection and response activity.
The full inspection report can be found here.
We know that there are challenges due to Covid 19 which is why we are investing additional funding into ensuring the public consultation process is robust, comprehensive and meaningful.
Is there any way that additional funds can be raised so these proposals aren’t needed?
As previously mentioned, it is important to remember these proposals are not focused on making cuts. They are focused on making sure we have a better balance in our prevention, protection and response teams; and on allowing us to move resources to areas where they can do more good. For example, into increasing the availability of a number of fire engines and / or into increasing our capacity to undertake more community safety fire prevention and building fire safety activity.
The Fire Authority recently approved a rise in Council Tax this year which is a major part of our funding. Whilst we do need to keep within our budget, we have based our proposals on nine years of evidence about incidents and risks in our communities. We have then looked at whether we should move any of our resources to where they provide more benefit. For example, we have one fire engine which only attended an incident 13 times in 2017/18. This is one of the fire engines we are proposing we no longer need in that particular location (Battle fire stations’ second fire engine) as it will provide more benefit if we effectively relocate the associated capital funding into Hastings Bohemia Road, where a new additional second appliance can provide an improved response to over 250 incidents a year.
How much do you need to save in the next 5 years and how much will this programme of change save?
These proposals will allow us to make the most of our funding and invest in the areas where it’s needed most.
We have a Medium-Term Financial Plan which predicts that we may need to make new savings of between £0.7m and £3.6m by 2024/25. This reflects the uncertainty about funding in the future. We won’t know the actual level of savings required to balance the Authority’s budget until the Government confirms funding for the fire service for the remainder of this parliament.
Our proposals taken together could release revenue savings of between £1.0m and £1.6m by 2024/25, which is the end of our current Medium Term Financial Plan. Further savings are possible beyond that timescale depending on the options that the Authority agrees in September.
The proposals could also reduce the cost of our capital (investment) programme over the next five years by £0.6m, reducing our need for additional borrowing.
In the aftermath of Grenfell why are you reducing your Aerial Rescue capacity and not improving it?
The lessons from the tragedy at Grenfell encompass much more than how fire services respond to fires but also how they work to prevent them in the first place. Our proposals will help us reinvest in building fire safety work.
We are proposing to replace the combined Aerial Rescue Platform (ARP) at Eastbourne fire station, with a standard frontline fire engine and a new separate Aerial Ladder Platform (ALP) (i.e. replacing one vehicle with two). We are improving our overall aerial rescue capability by increasing our specialist Aerial Ladder Platforms from two to three, in the areas where the highest high-rise risks dictate.
How long is “slightly longer”? (Ref Proposal 2 in the daytime at weekends only)
We will always mobilise the nearest, quickest available crew, fire engines and other resources to an incident.
The answer to this question will be different depending on a whole range of factors, however, our modelling suggests that there will be no material impact on our current attendance standards with these proposals. You can read about our attendance standards here.
Our proposals will provide an opportunity to improve our capacity to do more prevention and protection activity in order to stop incidents happening in the first place.
We will continue to proactively target areas where community risk is high specifically considering any areas affected by these proposals.
Will you still be able to cope with incidents such as the recent Ashdown Forest fires – or multiple incidents?
The whole purpose of our proposed Operational Resilience Plan (proposal 1) is to ensure we have the right number of resources (for example fire engines and firefighters) to manage multiple incidents, protracted incidents and spate conditions. The proposals allow us to increase the minimum number of fire engines available from 15 to 18.
In addition, the minimum of 6 resilience fire engines will also give us an additional ability to further support protracted incidents, support standby moves and to provide regular relief crews to on-going incidents.
Have you taken Covid 19 into account when considering the Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP)?
The impacts from a national event such as a pandemic were considered in the risk planning process for the IRMP. The Operational Resilience Plan (proposal 1) is targeted at ensuring the optimum level of cover is known and then maintained by targeting our resources.
You can read more about our work during Covid19 on our website here – this includes links with the IRMP
Our IRMP is due to be delivered over five years as a long term, flexible programme supported by phased and measured implementation, giving us the flexibility to respond and adapt to any fundamental changes in our communities or Fire Service’s responsibilities.
Why do you propose to not attend Automatic Fire Alarms (AFAs)?
We average around 9,200 operational responses to incidents each year. Automatic Fire Alarm systems account for 34% of all these calls. 96% of the calls initially categorised as AFAs turn out to be false alarms – these are often described as “unwanted fire signals”.
We are proposing that the Service no longer automatically attend calls to fire alarms operating in low risk commercial premises. This decision will reduce the overall level of our attendances at unwanted fire signals, so that our crews are more available to complete valuable prevention and protection work and to be available to respond to emergencies if required.
How many fire engines and aerial appliances will you have?
We currently have 32 fire engines which include 3 “maxi cabs” (which have a different cab design), 1 combined “aerial rescue pump” in Eastbourne, and 2 “aerial ladder platforms” in Hastings and Brighton.
This is a total of 35 vehicles.
If all the proposals are accepted, by 2025 we will have 27 fire engines with a standardise design, and 3 aerial ladder platforms in Eastbourne, Hastings and Eastbourne.
This is a total of 30 vehicles.
Under these proposals there will be some changes in where the fire engines will be based because we want to move resources to areas of high risk.
It is important to remember that currently not all fire engines are “available” to respond 24/7 due to staff availability and this is a key factor we are seeking to improve.