Brigade union hits out against cuts after 10 fire engines called to false alarm in Compair Crescent, Ipswich

The Sir Bobby Robson Bridge with Compair Crescent in the background.

The Sir Bobby Robson Bridge with Compair Crescent in the background. - Credit: Archant

Cutting the second full-time fire engine from Princes Street station in Ipswich is a “recipe for disaster”, a union representative has said.

It comes after 10 fire engines were sent to false alarm at a five-storey block of flats in Compair Crescent, Ipswich, yesterday in response to a 999 caller reporting a smell of burning.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service mobilised three pumps from Princes Street, two from Ipswich East, two from Woodbridge, two from Felixstowe and one from Needham Market.

However, when the first five crews arrived firefighters found it to be a false alarm and called off the other five engines.

Ipswich will lose two of its six fire engines, one from Princes Street and one from Ipswich East, due to cost-cutting measures by Suffolk County Council (SCC).

Roy Humphreys, Suffolk secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: “Any cuts to the fire service is not good; we are stretched as it is with on-call fire cover, and people will wait longer, fires get bigger as you wait longer and people still need rescuing in good time.

“It is completely foreseeable to have two fire engines at an incident, if you look at the incident log at where most of those fires are, what fire engines have been mobilised, it is all Princes Street. To cut a second fire engine from Princes Street is a recipe for disaster.”

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When the brigade is sent to a blaze at a high-rise building, firefighters are not able to begin work until a certain number of crews are on scene. Mr Humphreys said once the cuts come into force these fires would take longer to tackle as fire engines would have to be sent from “far and wide”.

Suffolk is due to lose 16 full-time firefighters, 21 retained firefighters and five fire engines by 2018 in a bid to save £1million.

Previously, SCC’s cabinet member for environment and public protection, Matthew Hicks, said he was confident that the changes would mean the brigade could continue to deliver an “outstanding” service to residents of Suffolk.

In response to yesterday’s false alarm, a SCC spokesman said: “There were 10 engines order based on the size of the property after reports of the smell of burning. When the first five arrived it was found to be a false alarm therefore they stood down and also the other five engines en route were stood down.”