Felixstowe: Protests increase over 999 fire cover cuts

MORE protests have today been made over proposals to cut Felixstowe’s full-time fire crews after claims will increase 999 response times by 68 per cent.

Trimley St Martin Parish Council has objected to the proposals to halve the number of full-time officers and is particularly concerned at the number of times the A14 is closed with the resort and its villages relying on the new Ransomes fire station for back-up .

Felixstowe Labour Party has sent a letter urging county councillors – who meet tomorrow to decide whether to make the changes – to reject cutting crew numbers to help save lives.

Fire chiefs say full-time fire crews at the resort are able to reach an incident on average in five minutes 30 seconds, while on-call firefighters take nine minutes 17 seconds.

The new crewing arrangements mean often there will only be two or three full-timers at the fire station, unable to respond to an emergency until on-call firefighters arrive to make up the required numbers to take out a fire engine.

In its letter, Trimley St Martin Parish Council said response times for on-call officers “equate to a 68pc increase in average attendance times which is surely unacceptable”.

“We are continually being told that seconds saves lives so the increase in minutes should not be tolerated,” said the council.

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“Is the average attendance time for on-call fire fighters based upon data collected for the full 24 hour day, rather than the busier working day time used to calculate the full time average? If this is the case the day time average attendance times are likely to be worse for the on-call fire fighters than those stated as traffic tends to be worse during the day.”

Margaret Morris, of Felixstowe Labour Party, said: “We recognise that due to the success of Felixstowe Firefighters over many years through education and visiting homes and businesses to give advice, many fires have been prevented.

“With fewer firefighters there will be fewer visits and the risk of fires will therefore increase.”

Chief fire officer Andy Fry said the review of Felixstowe’s fire cover had been very thorough, and carefully considered the implications.

“I therefore believe that the change being proposed is appropriate, and that members of our cabinet are being asked to take and evidence-based, properly-informed decision – albeit a difficult decision in response to the very difficult financial circumstances in which we find ourselves,” he said.