Felixstowe: Town could lose all its full-time firefighters

ALL full-time firefighters could be removed from Felixstowe in a year’s time, it was revealed today.

Fire chiefs said the latest proposal to halve the number of full-time officers at the town’s fire station to save money was the next step in the move to having it manned purely by on-call crews.

They say relying on on-call crews will add around four minutes to a 999 response – which campaigners say could mean the difference between life and death in an emergency.

Fire chiefs said full-time fire crews were able to reach an incident on average in five minutes 30 seconds, while on-call firefighters took nine minutes 17 seconds.

“Both attendance times satisfy our performance standards for the first fire engine responding to incidents in Felixstowe,” said assistant chief fire officer Phil Embury.

“On call firefighter availability remains very good at Felixstowe fire station.

“In the last 12 months at least one on-call fire engine has been available for 99.9 per cent of the time.

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“This equates to just six-hours across the 12-month period where a fire engine wasn’t available.

“Further analysis indicates this was four periods of 1.5 hours, two at the weekend, and two during the week.”

Campaigners are furious at the latest proposed changes, which will see the number of full-time firefighters on weekdays reduced from eight to four.

It could mean, due to leave, training and other commitments, that only two or three officers are on duty at any time, unable to take out a fire engine to a 999 call until enough on-call officers arrive from their work to make up the required crew numbers.

The move is set to be agreed by the county council cabinet next Tuesday and would come into effect immediately, saving �140,000 a year.

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

In the past year, crews at Felixstowe had attended 221 calls, of which 77 were attended by the full-time crews, an average of 1.3 a week.

“In the event that there is an unforeseen decrease in the on-call firefighter availability at Felixstowe then additional full-time firefighters can be returned to the station to provide the necessary resilience,” he said.