PLANS to downgrade Grays Fire station will increase the risk for residents and businesses according to firefighters and Labour’s candidate to be Thurrock’s next MP.
The station will lose one appliance – the aerial ladder platform – and the staff that go with it, reducing the capacity of the station, even though the town has more high risk sites that all of Hertfordshire and more than a third of Essex’s high risk sites.
Recent incidents on the Dartford Bridge, at Tilbury docks and in high rise flats, reflect the risks that proper fire services are there to protect the community, residents and businesses.
High risk sites are assessed by the fire service and rated 1-5. Thurrock holds 8 sites rated at 5 – the highest rated risk, and 5 are in Grays, including Vopak, terminals, Proctor and Gamble and Esso Petroleum in London Road.
Thurrock also is home to significant parts of national infrastructure, including the Dartford crossing, three ports (Tilbury, DP world, and Purfleet) and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. Incidents at any of these locations would have significant impact not only on the surrounding community but also the country.
The changes to crewing arrangements will leave Grays with one permanently crewed front line appliance there is a serious risk that the area will have insufficient capability to deal with risks in the community.
Fire fighters are asking for an immediate review of the services plans and are backed by Polly Billington.
Polly said: “Fire fighters are rightly concerned about the impact of the planned cuts to Grays Fire station. Grays has 5 high risk sites as assessed by the fire service – more than a third of all the high risk sites in the whole of Essex. Because our local industry, including docks, oil depots and chemical companies are close to people’s homes, we need to protect ourselves from potential disaster if there was an incident at any of these places. Reducing staff and equipment will make that harder. Essex Fire Authority should think again”.
Fire fighter Andrew Knowles said: “Essex Fire Authority should reconsider their decision as soon as possible. Grays has more high risk sites than in the whole of Hertfordshire, and yet the Authority wants us to cover this area with reduced equipment and staff which has serious implications for residents safety. Cuts will make protecting the residents of Grays much harder and increases the risks if there was an incident. We will be taking our concerns to Thurrock Council to ask for their support in making the Fire Authority change its mind. It is great to have Polly’s support on this”.
Grays Labour Cllr Cathy Kent said: “I was happy to meet the fire fighters on the picket line to hear their concerns. As a member of the Essex Fire Authority I know how important this is. I am concerned about the risk to Grays, because of the unique makeup of Thurrock”.