Surrey’s busiest fire station could close later this year as the cash strapped county council looks to make even deeper spending cuts.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) says lives will be endangered if Staines fire station is axed as it would leave Spelthorne as the most under-resourced borough in the county for fire safety. It has launched a campaign against the plans.
In addition, Surrey County Council is considering plans to cut three more fire engines across the county.
The union fears that the fire engines could be replaced by small vehicles that carry as few as two firefighters and cannot perform emergency rescues.
The move comes as Surrey County Council considers plans to hold a local referendum asking the public to accept an increase in council tax in order to fund services. The union says that the number of fire engines targeted in the cull could rise if the council does seek a referendum but loses the vote.
Richard Jones, secretary of the FBU in the South East, said: “Staines fire station is by far the busiest in the county. There are six people alive today because of the lifesaving service firefighters from Staines have performed over the past seven months. If the station does close, there is no doubt that lives that could have been saved, will be lost.
“A local referendum would cost approximately £1m. If they lose, councillors would implement the cuts and then some to off-set the costs of the referendum. 2017 could be the year where people in Surrey find themselves deprived of a world class fire service that keeps them safe.”
Firefighters from Staines fire station have attended 415 medical emergencies in the past six months as part of a trial scheme in which fire crews respond to emergencies where people have had cardiac arrests, heart attacks or are suffering from chest pain or breathing problems. This figure is more than double than any other station in Surrey.