Felixstowe: Star readers make voices heard over firefighter cuts

FELIXSTOWE: Petition forms are rolling in – showing just how angry people are about the proposals to axe full-time fire crews.

Worried residents are making it clear they don’t want the county council cuts to affect a vital emergency service where minutes and seconds can be the difference between life and death.

If Felixstowe’s full-time day-time cover is removed, it will be on-call firefighters that will be the front-line in an accident of blaze.

But they will have to first down tools at work and travel from their day jobs to the fire station and wait for all the team to arrive before they can set off in the fire engine to an incident.

Their back-up will be crews from the new fire station being built at Ransomes Europark, Ipswich – and Evening Star research has shown they could take 13 minutes or more to arrive compared with the three or four minutes by the full-time teams.

The Star’s postbag has been bulging with Save Our Fire Crews petition forms – which can now also be signed online on our website – and letters with people unable to believe that firefighters could be axed.

While many people are worried about how long it could take for crews to reach a fire in future, others have voiced wider concerns.

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They criticise the decision to axe the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service control room and have calls answered in future by controllers at a new regional call centre in Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire.

Recently the Star revealed that this centre will not be ready before Suffolk’s call centre closes and that as an interim measure calls will be answered by the already-busy Cambridgeshire controllers.

It will also mean 15 of the 23 Suffolk staff losing their jobs.

Evening Star editor Nigel Pickover said it was vital people made their voices heard by signing the petition and writing letters.

“Fire chiefs think it is acceptable that the people of Felixstowe should get an inferior fire and rescue service to other parts of our region,” he said.

“We don’t think that is good enough – and have told them we will fight their proposals at every turn.

“By signing our campaign petition the public is showing that it agrees with us and they don’t want these cuts. It is time for councillors to take note and take action.”

Carl Jackson, managing director of Signs for You, based in Ipswich, has created stickers to try and help save the Felixstowe Fire Service in a bid to boost the campaign.

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

n How do you think the cuts will affect you? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail evening starletters@eveningstar.co.uk