Suffolk: Fire service will still see major cuts

SUBSTANTIAL cuts will still be made to Suffolk’s fire service as bosses try to reduce costs.

The county council cabinet will decide on June 21 whether the changes are approved.

While there has been goods new for Felixstowe with a new proposal tabled which will see the cover of full-time firefighters kept for weekdays instead of being axed altogether, the news is not so good for other operations.

There will be a review of the full-time firefighters’ shift system, a cut in the number of staff involved in fire reduction and prevention work, Haverhill fire station will be reduced to five-day full-time cover, and changes to the crewing of the turntable ladder will cut 12 jobs.

Two more posts will go through changes to the role of flexible duty officers.

Andy Fry, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service’s chief fire officer, thanked everyone who took part in the 12-week consultation.

“The consultation responses have proven very useful as a means of challenging the thinking behind our original proposals and, in the case of Felixstowe fire station, changing what we are proposing to do,” he said.

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“People are, quite rightly, very interested in changes to fire and rescue service arrangements.

“It is therefore important that in developing details of changes, a proper balance is struck between achieving savings in a very difficult financial environment and continuing to deliver services that meet the needs of people in Suffolk.

“I believe that what we are recommending to cabinet members sensibly achieves that balance.”

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey welcomed the proposals for Felixstowe. It was decided to keep full-time weekday cover thanks to the Evening Star’s Save Our Fire Crews campaign and the overwhelming support it attracted, and a dossier compiled by the Fire Brigades Union, the compromise solution is now on the table.

Dr Coffey said: “I think it’s a very good outcome indeed and shows how important it is that a review like this is carried out in public.

“People were very worried and frightened about the possibility of the full-time crews being lost altogether and the impact that could have on the town with the extra length of time it would take crews to arrive.

“I was also very concerned at the extra pressure it would have put on the on-call crews, who would have been covering all the emergency call-outs.

“Instead of being called out once or so a week, that may have risen to four or more times a week.”

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