Ipswich to lose its first fire appliance next week

Labour has promised to reverse fire service cuts, like that which has reduced the number of applianc

Labour has promised to reverse fire service cuts, like that which has reduced the number of appliances in Princes Street in Ipswich.

Ipswich is to lose one of three appliances from its central fire station next Wednesday as the controversial changes approved earlier this year are implemented.

One of two full-time appliances based at the Princes Street Fire Station will be withdrawn. That will leave the station home to one full-time appliance and one crewed by part-time firefighters.

The reduction was approved in May following a controversial review of fire cover across the county.

Stations at Ipswich East, Bury St Edmunds, and Lowestoft South will each lose an appliance crewed by part-time firefighters over the next few weeks.

Deputy chief fire office Mark Sanderson said the crews at Princes Street were told about the date of the changes yesterday – although it had always been said the appliances would be withdrawn during the late summer and autumn.

Mr Sanderson said that the appliance being withdrawn from Princes Street was reasonably new. The equipment that was needed at the station would be removed and it would be taken to the workshops and be serviced to replace an older machine elsewhere in the county.

Mr Sanderson said: “We use fire appliances for up to 15 years so this one will be sent elsewhere when one of our older machines comes to the end of its time with us.

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“It will be up to our fleet manager to decide where it will end up.”

Although there will be one full time machine, staffed by 20 firefighters in shifts, fewer at Princes Street, none of the full-time firefighters are facing redundancy.

Four will be sent to other communities in Suffolk to try to ensure more rural part-time crews are up to strength if an emergency call comes in. In the past that has led to the third Princes Street appliance being based in elsewhere to cover for a shift.

Mr Sanderson said: “The other firefighters will be redeployed, but there is always a natural staff turnover with people leaving and retiring, so there is no need for any redundancies.”

The Fire Brigades Union has warned that cutting the number of fire appliances will mean fire crews could take longer to reach emergencies, but Suffolk County Council approved the changes in May after hearing that the number of emergency calls had fallen in recent years and that the changes could improve fire cover overall.