Port chaplain backs our sea fire crusade

WITH just five days to go until Suffolk firefighters cease to help burning ships at sea, a chaplain at Felixstowe Port has joined the Star crusade to save the vital service.

WITH just five days to go until Suffolk firefighters cease to help burning ships at sea, a chaplain at Felixstowe Port has backed the Star campaign to keep the life-saving service.

Rev Ken Martin, a chaplain at the Felixstowe Seafarers' centre in the port, has said that he would be very disappointed to see the vital Suffolk marine fire unit go.

He said that although seafarers were fully trained in fire fighting the special marine fire crews created a tremendous piece of mind and were a necessary back-up if a fire was to get out of control.

The 54-year-old said he supported the Evening Star's Fire Watch campaign and had gathered a number of signatures himself in protest of the county council's decision to axe the service to save £9,000 a year in training costs.

"I was very sad that this very important service has been taken away. Every body on board ship is trained in fire fighting but there is a need for the firemen," said Mr Martin, of Chelsworth Road, Felixstowe.

"It will be a tremendous piece of mind to know the firefighters are there."

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He added that although seafarers are trained to a very high standard in fighting fires, the special Suffolk marine unit was a bonus as they would know that experts would be along promptly if the fire got out of hand.

Mr Martin believes the Norsea P&O Ferry, which had a fire in the engine room, off the Norfolk coast almost two weeks ago was saved from a potential catastrophe when the fire fighters from Ipswich were winched down to investigate the problem.

The chaplain, who had been a seaman himself for five years before becominga priest, has been based at the seafarers' centre for 12 years. He said he represented the views of many of the seafarers who came into the centre in Carr Road for rest, recreation, entertainment and spiritual guidance.

Mr Martin had worked as a seaman on commercial ships until at least 26 years ago when he turned to a career in the church, but he still keeps abreast of all the seafarers' views by working in the centre.

Suffolk County Council are defending their decision to scrap the vital service although hundreds of Star readers who have contacted the Star think differently.

* Time is running out for the marine firefighting unit. What do you think of the decision to scrap it? Fill out the coupon or write with your views to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or email starletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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