Teams provide strike cover at sea

SHIPPING off the Suffolk coast was today reassured that fire crews would come to its aid if there was a major disaster at sea.It had been feared the firefighters' strike action would leave passenger and cargo ferries using the increasingly busy shipping lanes off the county's shores to deal with fires on their own.

By Richard Cornwell

SHIPPING off the Suffolk coast was today reassured that fire crews would come to its aid if there was a major disaster at sea.

It had been feared the firefighters' strike action would leave passenger and cargo ferries using the increasingly busy shipping lanes off the county's shores to deal with fires on their own.

The county's own fire service axed its firefighting at sea team two months ago, leaving Kent and Lincolnshire to deal with any major incidents


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Kent then decided it would no longer cover Suffolk, leaving just specially trained officers at Boston in Lincolnshire – 70 miles from their helicopter transport provided by Wattisham – to give cover.

With the industrial action taking place, there were worries that there would be no firefighting at sea teams at all, which could leave shipping in grave danger if a major blaze broke out.

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But today Lincolnshire fire and rescue services confirmed that the county would still carry out its duties for firefighting at sea, despite the dispute.

"We still have the resources to attend incidents at sea and will deal with such incidents if they arise," said a spokesman.

Retained firefighters in Lincolnshire are not on strike and are manning 29 of the county's 38 fire stations, providing as much cover as they can. Trained retained firefighters would attend incidents at sea.

Emergencies on ships off the Suffolk coast will probably also be answered by Belgian rescue teams based at Koksijde just south of Zeebrugge.

The department for transport is currently carrying out a marine safety review that could introduce national funding for firefighting at sea.

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