Felixstowe: Full-time firefighters set to stay thanks to campaign
Full-time firefighters are today set to continue covering Felixstowe – thanks to overwhelming public support for the crews via the Evening Star’s Save Our Fire Crews campaign.
Councillors are being recommended by senior fire service officers to keep the day-time crews on weekdays when the resort is at its busiest.
The news comes after months of worry after plans were announced to axe the full-time team as part of cost-cutting measures.
Now, instead of being based at the fire station seven days a week, the full-time officers would work Monday to Friday, with on-call fire crews covering weekends.
Mayor Doreen Savage said: “I do hope cabinet approves this. It is vitally important that firefighters are available immediately to respond to incidents and that there are full-time crews ready to do that – as we should have in a town of this size.
“I think it’s a good compromise solution. It will give people peace of mind and also hopefully enable the crews to carry on the excellent safety work they do in our community.”
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County councillor John Goodwin, who had pressed for the five-day crew system, said: “I think it is a really good and fair solution and I am thrilled.
“We need the full-time cover during the week when the town is busy and people are at work, and at weekends there should be more on-call firefighters available to provide the cover because less of them will be at their workplaces.
“It also means there will be no job losses among our highly-trained firefighting staff.”
Deputy mayor Mike Deacon said he was pleased the five-day cover would be provided but disappointed that it was being reduced from seven-day full-time cover.
“I am pleased that we are not losing the crews altogether, as was originally proposed, but this is still a reduction in cover and I am concerned about the weekends because those are times when the town can be very busy with daytrippers and holidaymakers with bed and breakfast and hotels full, and also more people are at home and likely to have incidents or accidents.”
The proposal will be put before the county council’s cabinet on June 21.
More than 2,000 people signed the Save Our Fire Crews petition and many more sent letters of support for the campaign, urging the council to abandon its plans to axe the firefighters.
The FBU said the plans were “the most damaging and dangerous cuts to fire and rescue cover we have ever seen” – a “huge gamble” with the lives of the people of Felixstowe.