Slower response times ‘will hit trust in service’

Firefighters from Bury St Edmunds pictured with the appliance that may be lost due to cut backs. ANL-151125-174457009
Firefighters from Bury St Edmunds pictured with the appliance that may be lost due to cut backs. ANL-151125-174457009
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Fire chiefs have been warned that proposed cuts ‘could put the public at risk’ and undermine faith in the fire service.

The concerns were aired at a consultation meeting in Bury over plans to slash Suffolk’s fire service budget, which would see Bury lose one of its three fire engines.

The first public consulation on plans to cut Suffolk Fire Service's budget took place in Bury St Edmunds on Tuesday evening. ANL-160801-113043001

The first public consulation on plans to cut Suffolk Fire Service's budget took place in Bury St Edmunds on Tuesday evening. ANL-160801-113043001

Around 40 people, mostly firefighters, attended the meeting at West Suffolk House on Wednesday.

Among the issues raised were fears the public would lose trust in the service if it suffered late response times in the future, something firefighters said has already happened to the ambulance service. Others wanted the council to be clearer as to how crews were expected to cover simultaneous emergencies in different areas of the county and how the service expected to recruit new on-call firefighters when it was already finding it a struggle.

Some were critical of the meeting’s format, with the public split onto separate tables with a facilitator on each. Many were also upset the final decision would be taken by the county council’s cabinet alone - a panel of just nine people.

One full-time firefighter, who wished not to be named, said the cuts would put the public at risk. “I think the decision doesn’t just make the public unsafe, it makes the firefighters unsafe as well,” he said.

“I think the decision doesn’t just make the public unsafe, it makes the firefighters unsafe as well.”

Suffolk Firefighter

A petition has been set up by firefighters in Bury to fight the cuts.

Cllr Hicks said the format of the meeting allowed more people to voice their views.

He said: “I have confidence the proposals will leave us with a resilient fire service.”

To give your view on the fire service cuts visit www.suffolk.gov.uk/emergency-and-rescue/fire-service-redesign.