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‘State-of-the-art technology’ ensures Firefighters & resources are where they are when they are needed…except when they’re not

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Find your local fire station empty? Blame the computer!

It’s been a contentious topic of debate for a long time now and the reality of the situation seems to be getting clearer to those nearby in Horley and Salfords.

Only this week a driver crashed into a tree causing their car to catch fire. The local station, Salfords, was unable to attend due to ‘insufficient staffing numbers’ but this appears to be the reality of the service going forward and some firefighters concerns seem to be going un-noticed.

Well now this ‘hot’ topic (no pun intended) is starting to dawn on residents as well.

The issue comes down to how fire services are being deployed. According to Surrey County Council the use of new technology means that appliances and staff are being located around the county depending on where the technology dictates there to be a potential need for their services.

In essence the idea is to ensure that staff and appliances are not just sat idly at a station when there could be a greater need for them at another. An interesting idea but this does seem to have an adverse effect as demonstrated earlier this week with the Salfords car fire.

It does not take an expert to know that if there is a fire in a location and no firefighters there then the delay in bringing them from another location will cause more damage than it would were they still located nearby.

So the potential for having your local fire station empty of any crew is actually no longer a theory, it is a reality.

According to the council over 80 new firefighters have been recruited and that from April 2020 the service will have a full complement of full-time firefighters. BUT and this is where the new concept of moving staff around comes in, this still does not mean that you can always rely on your local station to be the ones to help you, as crews will still be constantly moved around as big brother dictates where they are most likely needed.

It is not yet clear how this technology seems to be able to see into the future and in the case of Salfords car fire this week…how do I put this…oh yes, was useless, but apparently we are now to rely on algorithms to ensure our trusted fire service are in the right place at the right time…except when they’re not.

And let’s be clear, NO-ONE knows when or where they will be needed, not even your bedside Alexa.

So the chances of seeing appliances sat in a layby awaiting a call out, similar to ambulances and police cars is likely to increase across Surrey.

So does this have any bearing on Sussex crews? Of course because the two counties now share a central communications centre meaning that they are becoming closer and closer in alignment with how they operate so it would be a strong bet that what is happening in Surrey will eventually seep into Sussex.

Protests have been made by serving officers and there are countless social media groups appearing all critising the new ‘concept’ way of operating. And the response to this critism? ‘People don’t like change’. Well they don’t if they feel it could harm people.

Because let’s not forget one major factor here. One of the greatest lessons to be learned about fire is time. Time can make the difference between something small and something big. Truth is time can be life or death.

So what happens when time is extended because a crew are not in their own station but miles away covering another and a fire breaks out near their own station?

Oh wait, we just did find out.

Opinion

129, 560, 462,000 & 7.7% – Sussex police’s investment in numbers but will Crawley residents feel safer?

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Taser training for officers.

It’s a numbers game at the moment with policing.

With news that funding across England and Wales is to increase by £1.1 billion between 2020-21 there is a lot of noise coming out of Westminster of how it is the largest funding increase in a decade.

Sussex Police alone is set to receive £22.2 million of that which is a 7.7% increase.

On-top of that only last week it was announced that £462,000 was to be invested in 560 new tasers for officers.

So all sounds very glossy and reassuring doesn’t it?

And yet while additional equipment has been greatly applauded by the masses for officers the reality is only 129 additional officers are joining a force that covers 770sq miles. Is that really enough?

Taking a look at recent incidents around Crawley they all have a concurrent theme. Young people with knives robbing one another. How does the additional few officers for the town address this? How do those officers now equiped with a taser stop the robberies or the stabbings?

We need more officers to cope with the demand and we need more visual presence to try to address these issues. But no-one seems to be able to come up with a viable solution.

Education has always been one solution banded around but after all these years it does not ‘seem’ to be making a difference. Activities open to young people just seem to be based around sport and yet the last time I attended a sports funded activity aimed at taking ‘kids’ off the street the very problem youths it was aimed at were just the spectators watching and waiting for their friends to finish their football practise.

Numbers are all well and good and it is understandable that the government or council is happy to push them out in press releases as a way of encouraging trust and belief that things are going to change but change will only happen when there is a genuine belief that our streets are as safe as we really hope they are. Until then, expect more numbers to be thrown our way.

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