Fears over proposed cuts to fire service

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A COUNCIL has voiced fears for the safety of people living in Bury St Edmunds if proposed cuts to the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service go ahead.

The cuts, expected to save Suffolk County Council more than £1.7 million by 2012-13, would impact on the availability of on-call support for fire-stations and the level of training available to firefighters.

They would also result in a reduction in the number of flexible duty officers and cut the number of fire safety inspections by around 30 per cent.

At a meeting of Bury Town Council, Cllr Kevin Waterson said he was worried by the cuts, outlined in the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service Integrated Risk Management Plan, and said they would cause slower response times and put people’s lives in danger.

Suffolk’s fire service says it ‘aims to’ respond to property fires within an average of 11 minutes and to road traffic accidents within an average of 13 minutes, in at least 80 per cent of incidents.

But Cllr Waterson said those figures were misleading and should be examined.

At the meeting he urged his fellow town councillors to have their say on the cuts during a period of consultation which will run until May 5.

“I think people should look at this with grave concern – the risk is increasing dramatically,” he said.

Following a vote about the cuts, Cllr Clive Springett said: “We (the town council) don’t feel that what they (Suffolk County Council) are offering is sufficient to care for the residents of the town.

Andy Vingoe, chairman of Fire Brigades’ Union Suffolk, called the cuts ‘a recipe for disaster’.

To comment on the proposals go to www.suffolk.gov.uk/IRMP