Bury loses fire engine next week

Firefighters from Bury St Edmunds pictured with the appliance they wanted to save. ANL-151125-174508009
Firefighters from Bury St Edmunds pictured with the appliance they wanted to save. ANL-151125-174508009

Senior fire officers have promised Bury St Edmunds fire station will be able to respond to everything it does now when it loses one of its on-call appliances on Tuesday.

Staff were told today that the appliance will move out as part of the changes across Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, which were subject to 14 weeks of consultation in 2016.

But Suffolk’s deputy chief fire officer Dan Fearn and group commander Ken Williamson said today that the station’s capabilities will not change and no firefighters will be made redundant.

Mr Fearn said: “Bury St Edmunds fire station will maintain its water rescue, animal rescue, Multistar aerial appliance and off road vehicle capability.

“We will be closely monitoring attendance times and the performance of Bury St Edmunds fire engines and the other fire stations over the period the fire engines are removed and into the future.”

Mr Williamson said: “Everything the station can currently respond to, it will respond to in the future.”

Bury will have its part-time ‘on call’ crews cut from 21 to 15 firefighters but Mr Fearn stressed all staff reductions have ben through natural turnover, not redundancy.

He added: “We’ve reduced our budget by £1.3 million without the need to close any stations or reduce staff by redundancy.”

The appliance cuts have been staged so two full-time crewed vehicles from Princes Street station in Ipswich went in August, followed by the third on-call fire engine from Lowestoft South in October and the third on-call fire engine from Ipswich East in November.

The plan to remove the appliance from Bury was unpopular. Though it was only used for seven per cent of callouts, the consultation revealed that of 1,654 questionnaires completed, just 13 percent agreed with its removal, with 77 percent disagreeing and 61 percent strongly disagreeing.

In addition, fire crews at Bury organised a petition against the cut which was signed by 6,184 people.

Phil Johnson, chairman of the Fire Brigade Union in Suffolk, warned at the time that the plans would put the public in danger.

“It goes against the service’s resilience and its ability to respond,” he said.

The appliance will not be lost to the service. Vehicles already move around stations to even up mileages and this machine will go back into that system allowing an older or higher mileage one to be replaced.