Felixstowe: A14 block fears lead to fire cuts protest

COMMUNITY leaders are making a strong protest over proposals to axe Felixstowe’s full-time firefighters amid fears over provision of back-up cover in an emergency.

Opposition to the proposals to cut crews is growing daily – and fire chiefs are coming under increasing pressure to abandon the controversial move.

Today firefighters were taking to the streets in the town to talk to residents about the cuts, urging them to make their views known now before the consultation period comes to an end.

The crews have been backed in their fight by the town council agreeing to send a strong protest to Suffolk County Council, asking them to drop the proposals to axe the full-time day-time fire crews or at least leave the full-time cover in place on weekdays.

Councillors are worried at how easily the dual carriageway can be blocked – highlighted by the Evening Star’s Save Our Firefighters campaign – as it was for seven hours this week by a fuel spillage, the second time it has been closed this year.

While on-call crews in Felixstowe would provide the first fire engine, back-up is likely to have to arrive from Ipswich.

Councillor Andy Smith said: “I think our core point should be that the A14 is our unique risk point.

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“We are at the end of one road which is particularly susceptible to being blocked and for that reason it is unacceptable for us to lose our fire crews and have to rely on officers being sent from elsewhere.”

Councillor Mike Ninnmey said: “It seems very odd to me that Haverhill, which has road access from all around it, is being cut from seven days a week to five days and yet here in Felixstowe, at the end of the road network, we are being cut from seven days to nothing and left very exposed.”

Mayoress Jan Garfield said: I think for them to say on-call crews would only four minutes longer is absolute rubbish – these officers will have to get out of work, drive to the fire station, get changed, get the engine on the road to the incident.”

Suffolk fire chief Andy Fry has said an incident in Felixstowe coinciding with closure of the A14 would be rare and believes getting through crash congestion would make the journey to Felixstowe 15 minutes – five minutes longer.

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