Felixstowe: 2,000-signature petition against fire cuts handed over

A DECISION on whether Felixstowe’s full-time firefighters will be axed or saved will be made next month.

Consultation on the controversial move ends today and county fire chief Andy Fry personally took delivery of The Evening Star’s Save Our Fire Crews petition – signed by more than 2,000 residents worried about the cuts.

“We have had a huge response to this issue and the community is extremely worried that these cuts go too far and could seriously endanger life and property,” said Evening Star Felixstowe editor Richard Cornwell, who handed over the petition to Mr Fry at the county council HQ, Endeavour House in Ipswich.

“The fire service may say that most serious fires do not take place in day-time and they are confident there will be enough on-call firefighters to cover.

“The truth is that no-one can say when a serious fire will develop and the reality will be that while our on-call crews are fabulous and always do a brilliant job, it will take them longer to reach an incident – extra minutes which could prove vital.

“We hope that the county councillors will see how foolish these cuts to front-line services are and abandon the proposals and find the savings needed in other ways.”

The biggest worry for most people is that on average it will take an on-call crew four minutes longer – and sometimes up to nine minutes – to reach a fire or car crash in the Felixstowe area.

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If a back-up crew is needed from Ipswich, this could take much longer, up to 13 minutes.

Mr Fry said the responses to the consultation would now be collated and the next stage would be for a cross-party group of councillors to assess the comments.

They would then look at whether further changes were needed to the proposals before making recommendations to the June cabinet meeting, which will make the final decision.

One of the biggest concerns has been the growing reliance on on-call firefighters and how easy it will be to recruit more if they are needed more often to attend incidents.

One day last week 13 fire stations were “off the run” and did not have an on-call crew available during the day, though officials said most were only unavailable for short periods.

The Fire Brigades Union in Suffolk has slammed the cuts, which would save �1.5 million, as “the most damaging and dangerous cuts to fire and rescue cover we have ever seen”.

? Should Felixstowe’s full-time day-time fire crews be axed? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk