Jobs could be lost with fire merger plan

East Sussex Fire and Rescue HQ at Upperton Road Eastbourne
East Sussex Fire and Rescue HQ at Upperton Road Eastbourne

THE 999 fire control centre in Eastbourne could be closed – and jobs may be lost – under new plans to merge East and West Sussex fire services.

The East Sussex Control room is currently based in the former PPP building in Upperton Road and manned by around 25 staff.

But this week it was announced a single control room will be set up for both counties after the merger and could begin taking 999 calls in September 2013.

A decision on where it will be based has still to be made, but it is looking likely that Chichester will be the preferred option and the Fire Brigade Union is concerned that the new control room could trigger job losses.

Matt Dale, FBU secretary for East Sussex, said, “The exact details of the merger are not available yet to us as we are not sure how it will affect our members.

“But we are concerned about the control centre in Eastbourne and will be speaking to the Fire Authority about how it will affect them.

“There are a similar number in Chichester for West Sussex and there might only be 40 staff needed for the new control room.”

An idea to merge the two services was first mooted in December last year as a cost cutting plan.

The control room merger follows a successful bid by both services for £3.6 million funding from the Department of Communities and Local Government.

It also follows the Fire Minister Bob Neill’s decision in December of last year to cancel the previous Government’s proposal to merge nine fire control rooms in the south east.

The cancellation led to the region’s fire and rescue services being asked to consider future ways of working for fire controls and explore options that would combine operational benefits with financial savings for the public.