Fire service ‘will have to continually evolve’

Fire crews battle a fire in Bognor in 2015. Photo by Eddie Mitchell
Fire crews battle a fire in Bognor in 2015. Photo by Eddie Mitchell

A four-year strategy outlining how West Sussex’s fire and rescue service will use its resources to protect the public has been published for six weeks of public consultation.

The Integrated Risk Management Plan 2018-22 explains how the service intends to save lives, improve public safety and reduce emergency incidents.

Debbie Kennard, cabinet member for safer, stronger communities, is urging the public to have their say on the fire and rescue service's Integrated Risk Management Plan 2018-22

Debbie Kennard, cabinet member for safer, stronger communities, is urging the public to have their say on the fire and rescue service's Integrated Risk Management Plan 2018-22

The document outlines the fire service’s activities in detail and residents are being asked to comment on the priorities identified by West Sussex County Council.

A series of drop-in meetings are being held around West Sussex for the public to find out more.

• Thursday April 26 from 5pm-7pm at Parkside, Horsham

• Monday April 30 from 12pm-2pm at Crawley Library

• Thursday May 3 from 5pm-7pm at Edes House, Chichester

• Thursday May 3 from 5pm-7pm at Clair Hall, Haywards Heath

• Tuesday May 8 from 5pm-7pm at The Regis School, Bognor Regis

Details of further meetings will be available on the county council’s website.

Debbie Kennard, cabinet member for safer, stronger communities, said: “If you were to ask people to describe the work of firefighters, most people would probably talk about fighting fires and possibly dealing with road traffic collisions.

“In fact, the service does a lot more than that including dealing with many other types of rescues, it carries out safe and well visits, has a business fire safety team, works with teams across the county council and with others in the community to make sure people are safe.

“We know the service will have to continually evolve to provide a first class emergency service. Some of the things we will have to consider include how to make the best use of resources.

“I would like to encourage everyone in our communities to have a look at this plan and to give us your views.”

The plan explains the fire service’s activities in detail on:

• Prevention – educating the community on how to reduce risks through safe and well visits, school visits and other training.

• Protection – providing safer public spaces within the built environment, fire safety inspections and enforcement.

• Response – sending fire engines and firefighters to emergency incidents. This can include fires, road traffic collisions and flooding.

• People – how the service addresses the challenges in delivering a highly trained, diverse workforce.

• Value for money – ensuring everything the service does is as cost efficient as possible.

• Partnership and collaboration – how the service will work with other organisations to achieve its organisational aims.

When a draft version of the IRMP was discussed by the council’s Environment, Communities and Fire Select Committee in March concerns were raised about how ‘potential headline changes and cuts’ did not ‘shine through’ in the document.

In response Gavin Watts, chief fire officer, said: “These documents by their very nature have to be a moment in time, I think they have to set a very clear direction, they have to make sure they have the public view on our broader approaches to things and if there are detailed shifts that happen and something important that needs to be consulted on then we would absolutely have to do that.

The consultation runs until Monday May 28. To view the plan and to comment visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/IRMP2018