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22 June 2015
The Surrey Fire Brigades Union (SFBU) has urged under pressure fire services in the South East to combine to prevent staff shortage problems.
The proposal would include integrating the services in Kent, Surrey, East Sussex and West Sussex into a single larger organisation.
The calls come after a number of incidents of staff shortages in Surrey.
A local fire station was unable to respond to emergency calls for 90 minutes after a firefighter went home sick and chiefs refused to authorise an overtime payment for a replacement.
It was also revealed that the first crew that responded to the fire which gutted Clandon Park House in April was manned by only four firefighters.
Richard Jones, secretary of the SFBU, said that merging was the answer to tackle some of these problems.
He said: “We’re like four small icebergs floating towards the equator.
“The only viable way of preventing further frontline cuts is for the four fire services to work together as one larger organisation.
“By realising the economies of scale and eradicating the duplication we currently have in these four individual services, we would be able to invest some of the savings back into the frontline service.
“This would ensure we have five firefighters on every fire engine and still provide a cheaper service for taxpayers across the four counties. It’s a no-brainer.”