Felixstowe: Crashes blocking A14 could delay fire crews reaching resort

FIRE chiefs admit there will be delays in getting back-up firefighters to Felixstowe if the town’s full-time crew is axed and the A14 is blocked.

Senior officers say they accept residents’ worries and concerns, but such a combination of events would be rare, and they believe they would still be able to get through – albeit more slowly – if there was a serious crash on the dual carriageway.

Suffolk County Council is proposing to scrap the seaside town’s full-time day-time crews to leave all emergency cover, 24/7, in the hands of on-call firefighters – even though the retained officers have told bosses they could not cope with the extra workload.

Fire chiefs are confident one on-call crew would be able to attend every fire, and usually two crews, but if the second was not available then a back-up engine would be sent from Ransomes Europark.

This would normally take about ten minutes – when an Evening Star reporter drove the route, as part of our Save Our Fire Crews campaign, it took 13 minutes – but could be much longer if the A14 was blocked by a crash.

Chief fire officer Andy Fry said: “I think, with blue lights and sirens, we could make steady progress, not as much progress as if the road was clear, but very often we can get through quite high levels of congestion, especially on a dual carriageway where it is wide enough for other vehicles to shift out of the way and allow us down the middle.

“A major accident on the A14 and a major incident in Felixstowe together would be a rare scenario, but it is possible and we are not dealing with an exact science.”

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He believed getting through crash congestion would make the journey to Felixstowe 15 minutes – five minutes extra.

? How do you think the cuts will affect you? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN.

? Collect a consultation leaflet from Felixstowe Library or download one from www.suffolk.gov.uk

? Sign the Evening Star Save Our Fire Crews petition at www.evening star.co.uk or at our offices at 172 Hamilton Road, Felixstowe, or 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich.