Vote to keep maritime team in Newhaven

The Maritime Response Team (MRT) could be reduced to 36 staff and centred at Newhaven Community Fire Station which will save £14,000, after East Sussex Fire Authority voted in favour of the proposal.

It follows a discussion at the Fire Authority’s meeting on February 12 as part of ongoing efforts to make savings while continuing to deliver a service which will protect the public.

Chairman of the Fire Authority, Phil Howson said: “We need to take a pragmatic approach to making decisions on service provision. We are fortunate that incidents at sea are rare. We also know that should an incident occur, they can be very difficult to tackle and specialist skills are vital. We have taken this into account when making our decision.”

Three options were considered and the Fire Authority voted in favour of Option 2 which was reduce the size of the Maritime Response Team. A team of 36 personnel would be centred at Newhaven Community Fire Station - the marshalling area for Maritime Response. While no firefighter posts would be lost, nine personnel at Barcombe would no longer be part of the MRT, the fire authority said. This would be for a period of three years subject to further consultation with staff. The authority said it would lead to a saving of £14,000 per annum through a reduction in availability allowance claims, spend on overtime, training and equipment.

Coastal Fire and Rescue Services have a statutory duty to fight fires on vessels within their area. There is no statutory duty, however, for provision of offshore firefighting.

The other options included maintaining a fully funded MRT with team members drawn from Newhaven and Barcombe Community Fire Stations. This had average annual costs of approximately £81,000 per annum, including additional costs of £3,000 for storage of equipment. Option 3 was to cease to provide an offshore maritime response capability. This would save £81,000 per annum.