Felixstowe/Ipswich: Fire crews could be up to 13 minutes away

felixstowe/ipswich: Thirteen minutes.

That’s how long it could take a fire crew to reach a blaze in Felixstowe if the resort’s day-time full-time cover is axed.

It’s a terrifying thought – and not something most people will want to hear.

If you are stuck in a car crash or waiting to be rescued from your home as it burns, every minute, every second, surely feels like an hour.

Knowing that Felixstowe has a fire crew at the station and is able to be at any incident in the town and surrounding area in three or four minutes is a wonderful reassurance – and the sort of cover any major urban area should have without question.

Over the years, the town’s full-time crew’s quick response has saved many lives and prevented many properties and possessions from serious damage.

If they are removed, the frontline of cover will be our on-call firefighters.

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They do an excellent job and are first-rate, but they have to down tools at their day jobs, fight their way through the town’s traffic to get to the fire station in High Road West, wait for a full crew and then take the fire engine out to the fire.

Their back-up in future will be the crews at the new Ipswich community fire station at The Havens on Ransomes Europark.

I set out to see how long it would take – driving at maximum speed within the law and the driving conditions – to reach three places in the Felixstowe area.

It took me 11 minutes and nine seconds to reach the shops in the middle of Faulkeners Way at Trimley St Mary.

Getting to Marsh Lane, Old Felixstowe, where two months ago there was a massive barn blaze which could easily have spread to nearby homes, but for the quick action of the firefighters, took 13 minutes 20 seconds, and to the caravan park in Manor Terrace, Felixstowe – 13 minutes 25 seconds.

I was able to go 70mph all the way on a clear A14, and kept to the maximum speed limits in the town.

Thirteen minutes, though, is a hugely long wait when you need a fire crew in an emergency – and 13 minutes could prove unlucky for some in a town crammed with hotels, residential homes for the elderly, office blocks, packed seaside attractions and the biggest port in Britain.

It’s another big reason why we must do all we can to fight for our firefighters and why the county council should rethink immediately.

Suffolk County Council has admitted that response times would be affected if the full-time crews are cut, but has deemed the risk “acceptable”.

No-one was available to comment yesterday on our research.