Fire cuts ridiculous in wake of blaze tragedies in resort

FELIXSTOWE: The seaside resort is today still reeling from the news that the town’s fire coverage could be slashed.

At a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Suffolk County Council proposed to downgrade the High Road West premises into an on-call only station, losing 14 firefighters and leaving emergencies to be dealt with by crews based nearly 12 miles away in Ipswich.

But the plans are even more ludicrous in light of recent tragic events in the town.

In April, a devastating fire tore through a bungalow in Larkhill Way, off Grange Farm Avenue, claiming the life of 65-year-old Carole Rawlinson.

The fire sent shock waves rippling throughout the community, and neighbours commented at the time that they were “shocked” at how quickly the flames had spread, getting so hot that they shattered the glass and melted the window frames.

But thanks to the quick work of firefighters – two crews from Felixstowe and one from Ipswich – the fire was stopped from spreading to neighbouring houses.

Fire chief Andy Fry visited the house shortly afterwards, saying he always tries to attend the most serious incidents to “personally” understand the circumstances.

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At the time, he said: “The fire service is there to save lives, and so when fatalities happen I think that it’s important to understand what’s happened on a personal level.

“It’s very important to stay in touch with reality and what it is like dealing with instances like the one in Felixstowe.”

This measure, which is estimated will save �210,000 per year, is one of a series of cuts proposed by Suffolk County Council because of more stringent budgets being imposed by Whitehall.

Residents will also remember other tragic incidents in the town, including the death of a man in his 50s after a blaze in his top floor flat on the corner of Ranelagh Road and Orwell Road in October 2008.

Once again, firefighters responded quickly to a neighbour’s 999 call and the three crews in attendance managed to contain the flames before they spread to nearby properties.

And in March 2009, a young family had a narrow escape as they left for school just minutes before a massive fire ripped through their large house in Quilter Road, sending smoke billowing through the tiles and requiring seven crews – that is 40 firefighters – to put out the blaze.

Randall Bevan, former head of recreation and amenities at Ipswich Borough Council, wrote to the Evening Star to express his support for our campaign.

“I urge all readers to support this initiative and to lobby your local councillors, county councillors and MPs and above all – Jeremy Pembroke, who leads this cut back – to demonstrate that local democracy is not only vested in those who tell you what they like pre-election, but at all times with us who pay for the services.

“More strength to the Star.”