Surrey Fire and Rescue Service is set to partner with East Sussex Fire Service and take its 999 calls from 2021.

The transfer of mobilising arrangements was warranted at a meeting of East Sussex’s Fire Authority yesterday, Thursday 9.

Members agreed to partner with Surrey Fire and Rescue Service, within a shared control centre based in Salfords.

The service said the changes were intended to deliver operational benefits, allowing East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service to work closely with Surrey Fire and Rescue and West Sussex Fire and rescue.

Chairman Roy Galley said: “Every decision the Fire Authority makes puts the public first and foremost.

“Members of the Fire Authority have been very impressed by the thoroughness of the assessments made of our options.

“We now need to get on with the job and deliver an excellent service for the residents of East Sussex, Brighton and Hove.

“Our response times are amongst the best in the country and we intend to maintain that.”

The decision was taken by the CFA after a comprehensive review of options.

It was considered how East Sussex Fire could best serve the community with the financial resources available.

But the announcement was not without controversy, with the Fire Brigades Union issuing a stark warning over the proposals.

Richard Jones, FBU South East executive council member, said: “This is blatantly unsafe and unsustainable. Surrey’s emergency fire control room is consistently understaffed and control staff were already desperately overstretched before the merger.

“We’re seeing fatigued staff break down in tears, with the immense pressure causing work-related sickness. The brigade is institutionally unprepared for this merger and it’s causing dangerous operational failures.

“Now, fire service bosses are planning to pile on coverage for East Sussex as well – it’s totally reckless. We should not be thinking about adding more pressure until Surrey addresses its understaffing and operational failings. It’s dangerous for control staff, for firefighters, and for the public.”