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Felixstowe: 29,000 people, 1,500 businesses and 12,000 homes – but no full-time firefighters

PUBLISHED: 12:26 24 February 2014 | UPDATED: 16:53 24 February 2014

Suffolk Fire Service Assistant Chief Phil Embury, Suffolk County Councillors John Goodwin and Graham Newman, Watch Commander Gary Fry and Group Commander Dave Pedersen held a open consulation day at the Felixstowe Fire Station for members of the public to discuss the station going to an on-call system.

Suffolk Fire Service Assistant Chief Phil Embury, Suffolk County Councillors John Goodwin and Graham Newman, Watch Commander Gary Fry and Group Commander Dave Pedersen held a open consulation day at the Felixstowe Fire Station for members of the public to discuss the station going to an on-call system.

Opponents of proposals to withdraw all full-time firefighters from Felixstowe have labelled the consultation process “a shambles”.

Town and district councillor Mike Deacon said there were no notices put up to publicise a consultation drop-in session with fire chiefs at the fire station until after the event started.

He said: “This whole consultation has been a shambles.

“No more than five people attended the consultation event during the first two hours. I just hope that they take notice of our 600 strong petition – and still collecting – than they have in the past.

“This petition shows the real strength of feeling across the ages against their proposals.”

The fire service is proposing to remove the resort’s remaining full-time firefighters, leaving all emergency cover to on-call crews – the final phase of a three-year programme which has seen full-time officers gradually reduced.

Opponents say the move is disgraceful for a town of 29,000 people, 1,500 businesses and 12,000 homes.

Mr Deacon said the proposals come at a time when 1,760 new homes are planned for the town and nearby villages, and a dip in response times with latest statistics showing the first fire engine to fires in a building arrived within 11 minutes on just 80% of occasions.

He added: “These final changes are the last straw for Felixstowe.

“Response times will increase and what matters to someone with a house fire is how quickly fire engines arrive. On-call firefighters do an excellent job – but they have to travel from their place of work to the fire station first which can add on another five minutes.”

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service said the event at Felixstowe Fire Station was promoted via the media, its website, Facebook, and Twitter.

A spokesman said: “We’d like to remind people that the consultation is still open and will remain so until Tuesday, March 4.

“We encourage all those living in Felixstowe to have their say on the proposals to ensure a well informed consultation exercise.

“The public can have their say over the phone, over email, online or via a hard copy questionnaire available on request.”

These are the ways people can have their say:

Online survey: www.surveymonkey.com/s/SFRSFelixstoweIRMP

Phone: 01473 260588

Email: Fire.BusinessSupport@suffolk.gov.uk

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