Fire engines relocation seen as 'Catch-22'
Firefighters briefed on Friday about proposals to redeploy fire engines described the plans as a ‘Catch-22’.
The briefing by Simon Moore, assistant chief fire officer at Surrey Fire and Rescue Service, at Epsm fire station laid out proposals for Epsom and Reigate to each lose a fire engine with the one from Epsom being relocated to Burgh Heath by summer 2014.
The plans, triggered by Horley losing an engine, would increase the response times for fire engines in the borough of Epsom and Ewell.
However, the average response time for the first fire engine to reach a fire in Reigate and Banstead would decrease by more than a minute.
A firefighter, from Epsom fire station, described the situation as a ‘Catch-22’ because of its varied impact in different areas.
He said: "When you look at the cold hard facts there the residents of Epsom and Ewell are going to suffer nearly a minute’s response time on the first appliance.
"But then you could argue why should they have a better response time than people who are up in Banstead?"
He added: "Slower response times will always increase fire loss and affect public safety."
Another firefighter said: "It’s not very clear cut.
"From my personal point of view I find it hard to argue against what they are planning because it improves fire cover."
Surrey Fire and Rescue Service's stated aim is to "create a chain of single fire engine fire stations running through the boroughs of Epsom and Ewell and Reigate and Banstead."
Fire Brigade Union representative Steve Todd raised concern that after the move they might realise resources are not necessarily based in the right location and then close the station.
Mr Todd said: "Just long-term would be my concern about losing the resource after it goes up there."
But he added: "It is an improvement on what they were threatening before."
Earlier proposals put forward the option of keeping two engines during the day at Epsom fire station but having only one on call at night.
The current proposal would see two engines available throughout, although one would be stationed in Burgh Heath.
No location for the proposed engine at Burgh Heath has yet been announced.