Fire control move ‘a mistake’

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A FIRE Brigades’ Union leader and an MP have criticised Suffolk Fire Service for being too quick to sign contracts to move out of its Ipswich headquarters.

Their comments came after fire authorities announced last Thursday that Suffolk’s command and control will move into Cambridgeshire’s existing HQ in Huntingdon.

Suffolk’s chief fire officer Andy Fry said: “Through this shared arrangement we aim to provide high quality fire and rescue services in both Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.”

Suffolk must leave its HQ by November because it signed a contract to go in anticipation of an Eastern Regional Control Centre being built as part of a national fire control project which has now been shelved.

Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket MP David Ruffley said: “This shows the folly of committing to contracts which you cannot get out of when circumstances change. I will be watching to ensure there is no diminution in speed and effectiveness in the deployment of firefighters.

“One has to be realistic but I will be watching this like a hawk. I would feel happier if control stayed in Suffolk but that’s not going to happen.”

He said Bury firemen told him they feared controllers in Cambridgeshire might not have the local knowledge.

FBU regional secretary Adrian Clarke said: “Suffolk’s fire chiefs bounced their councillors into agreeing to this venture to cover up the mess they created by committing too early to a project which sold off their control room in anticipation of a regional control coming good. That was a big mistake.”