More than a third of electric blankets tested in West Sussex were faulty - as checking service faces axe

West Sussex Fire & Rescue
West Sussex Fire & Rescue

More than 600 of the 1,786 electric blankets tested by West Sussex Fire & Rescue over the past ten years were found to be faulty.

The testing service is one set to be dropped as part of proposals to cut £600,000 from the Fire Service Operations budget for 2019/20.

The Fire Brigades Union said the loss of the service would present ‘a significant fire hazard’ to users.

Warning that it was quite often elderly or vulnerable people who relied on the service, spokesman Joe Weir said: “Electrical fires are a significant risk within the home, the tests ensure the electrics are safe and fit for purpose.”

With West Sussex County Council fighting to make £145m of savings by 2021, the plans for the fire service are to take £400,000 from intervention and prevention activities, and £200,000 from the Technical Rescue Unit.

The proposals, which the union described as ‘unsustainable and unsafe’, are due to be scrutinised by a council select committee next week.

The report was withdrawn from a meeting in December because it was felt it did not contain enough information to enable councillors to scrutinise it properly.

As well as the electric blanket testing, the proposals include the loss of the FireBreak courses – a week-long programme which gives youngsters practical training and classroom-based workshops.

In the past ten years, 1,299 youngsters have attended the course.

Another course expected to go is Safe Drive Stay Alive, which is run in partnership with the police, ambulance service and NHS and teaches 17-24-year-olds about good behaviour and attitude on the road.

In the past ten years, 101,200 people attended the course.

The environment, communities and fire select committee meeting will start at 10.30am at County Hall, Chichester, on Monday (January 14). Members of the public are welcome to attend and the meeting will be webcast via the council’s website.