West Sussex County Council has approved proposals that will save its fire service more than £1.6m according to bbc.co.uk.

The plans were formally approved on 22 September, following a 12-week public consultation. The proposals include:

  1. keeping all fire stations open, but changing the way fire appliances are crewed by introducing new shift patterns and reducing the overall number of staff, including firefighters
  2. keeping the same number of 24-hour crewed immediate response fire appliances, but moving one from a temporary base (Horsham) to a permanent location (Littlehampton) to replace the current day-crewed fire appliance there. This would be a net reduction of one fire appliance, but would upgrade crewing at Littlehampton to 24hr immediate response
  3. removing the second fire appliances at Midhurst, Petworth and Storrington, and the third fire appliance at Crawley – these are crewed by retained firefighters
  4. broadening the prevention role of firefighters, and investing in specialist equipment and training to support communities during severe weather and widespread flooding

The authority’s cabinet member for residents’ services, Lionel Barnard, said: ‘The number of emergency calls the fire service receives has fallen, and the types of incident crews respond to has changed. We need to adapt our service to reflect this.

‘This isn’t just about money. If we didn’t have to save a penny, these changes would still be needed because this is about improving our service and building a fire service that is fit for the 21st century.’

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service deputy chief fire officer, Lee Neale, added: ‘Our proposals are based on extensive data and the professional judgement of a wide range of fire service staff.

‘We have done a huge amount to target prevention work to those most at risk and want to continue to work even more closely with the communities we serve to reduce the likelihood of emergencies occurring in the first place.’

The Environmental Services Select Committee will formally review any impact from the changes one year after their implementation.

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