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Fire chief in blocked road alert

PUBLISHED: 18:21 19 November 2001 | UPDATED: 15:21 03 March 2010

FIREFIGHTERS today said some streets in a Suffolk town are not only difficult to get a fire engine down, but others are impassable - and it could mean the difference between life and death.

FIREFIGHTERS today said some streets in a Suffolk town are not only difficult to get a fire engine down, but others are impassable – and it could mean the difference between life and death.

Crews in Felixstowe say the problem is parking and they fear there could come a time when they need to reach the scene of an emergency and could waste valuable minutes having to find another route.

One of those roads highlighted in a fire service survey as "passable with care" was Holland Road, where two teenagers were killed in a fire in a top-floor room of a house in August – though officers stress that they had no problems or delays reaching that particular incident.

Assistant Divisional Officer Paul Seager said: "If we find a road is blocked then we have to find another route. Basically, that is likely to mean going round the block – but that adds seconds or minutes to our journey and, ultimately, could be the difference between life and death, although to the best of my knowledge we have not had that happen in Felixstowe yet."

Officers say the problem is that many streets which are chock-a-block with cars were not built for today's traffic.

The resort's seafront has a set of narrow Victorian streets leading between Sea and Langer Roads, where parking both sides makes it tricky for a car let alone a truck or a fire appliance to pass easily down the road's centre.

None have off street parking and all are forced to park on the roads. Many are sub-divided into flats and bedsits and many people from each property have cars which adds to the on-street congestion.

But there are also other areas of the town with similar situations – including the town centre and in Walton – and officers are worried that there could be tragic delays while they try to bring help.

ADO Seager, officer responsible for the Fire Station at Felixstowe, said the access needs of the emergency services were vital to an area of a town.

"A recent survey identified that some roads were difficult to negotiate in a fire engine, due to the number of parked vehicles, and that a few roads were actually impassable," he said.

"Roads that were identified as being impassable at the time of the survey were Graham Road, Felix Road and Margaret Street.

"Although passable with care, other roads giving cause for concern were, Cavendish Road, Holland Road, Quilter Road and Russell Road."

The fire crews plans to target the areas they have now identified as being the main problem streets and are to send out leaflets to residents to urge them to think carefully about parking or to call on households to talk to them about the problems and see if there are alternative places for them to park.

N Do you have a view on the problems facing firefighters in Felixstowe or elsewhere. If so write in to Evening Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@ecng.co.uk.

WEBLINK: www.suffolkcc.gov.uk/fire

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