Felixstowe: Fire crew cuts could save �140,000 a year

COMMUNITY leaders are set discuss the proposals to cut the number of full-time firefighters in Felixstowe amid fresh concerns that the changes will cause delays in help reaching emergencies.

Research by the Felixstowe Star has discovered that halving the number of firefighters from the current eight to four for each shift could save the fire service �140,000.

This is on top of the �140,000 saved since last year when the seven day shifts were reduced to five days a week.

Campaigners are concerned that the new changes will mean delays at times in crews responding to 999 calls, but also that the town’s fire station is being targeted for cuts at time when Suffolk Coastal is proposing to increase the housing stock by nearly 2,000 homes.

Mayor Mike Deacon said Felixstowe Town Council had received a letter from the fire service outlining the proposals, which are understood to be going before county councillors next month.

“The letter will be put before the town council on Wednesday evening for debate and I hope we will be sending a strong letter of protest to show our concern about these proposed changes,” he said.

Following a review of the changes made last year, senior officers are set to recommend that the number of full-time officers be reduced again – this time to a maximum of four on duty Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm.

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They concede that in reality this will often mean that, due to leave and other commitments, just two or three will be on duty, meaning that if an emergency call comes in they will have to wait until on-call officers can get away from work and arrive as four are needed to man a fire appliance.

The aim is to make the change to nucleus crewing as soon as possible and save a further �140,000 a year, according to county council documents.

Deputy chief fire officer for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, Mark Hardingham confirmed that fire crews from Ipswich would still provide back-up cover for Felixstowe’s full-time and on-call officers – and the new Ransomes Europark station was nearer to the A14 than the previous covering station.

The town has 21 on-call officers, including three new officers available to cover during the day.