Fire Crews Protest Over Possible Cuts

12 February 2011, 10:30 | Updated: 21 February 2011, 16:16

Some of our fire crews will be out protesting today.

A Fire Brigade Union organised rally of firefighters is taking place in Ipswich. The route will see them march along: Russell Road, Princes Street, Friars Street, Falcon Street, Dogs Head Street, Upper Brook Street, and Tavern Street ending up on the Cornhill outside Barclays Bank. A FBU stall will be then be set up for FBU Officials and members to speak with people to answer questions. The March will depart from outside Endeavour House at 11.00am.

It comes as Suffolk County Council is having a consultation about whether they need to make savings from the fire service there.

It's because the government is forcing them to make cuts to save money.

The consultation started on Thursday and will end on Thursday 5 May 2011.

Businesses, local councils, fire service staff and individuals across Suffolk are encouraged to express their views on the seven proposals to change the way the service is delivered and the response standards set by the Fire and Rescue Service.

As a result of reductions in the county council’s funding, the Fire and Rescue Service need to deliver significant savings in the coming years.

Andy Vingoe who is the Suffolk FBU Chair told Heart that cost-saving should not risk lives: "Everybody has to face cuts and I think it's only fair that everybody does have their share of the cuts. The fire service is very different. A cut to fire cover and an elongation of the time it takes us to get to a fire can have a huge difference on somebody's survival. Some of the cuts they're talking about are increasing the turnout times by four minutes - now in four minutes that's a huge, huge difference in whether a fire is survivable or not."

He also told us they have faced cutbacks already: "We're slimmed right down to the bone, so anymore cuts that we face now have got to be a frontline cut. We do need the fire service and we need it kept at the level we have now but certainly not reduced."

In response, County Councillor Colin Spence, from Suffolk County Council's Public Protection, told us; "We have an excellent Fire and Rescue Service in Suffolk. Despite the cutbacks we are facing, I believe it can stay that way. Importantly, we have maintained the same number of fire stations and fire engines across Suffolk.

However, to do that, we need to look hard at the way we have been delivering the service and look for ways of doing things differently.  We are keen to hear the local views on our proposals and I urge everyone to look at the consultation documents and help shape the future of the service.

The reality of the current financial climate means that we have no choice but to review all council services, and this includes the important work done by the Fire and Rescue Service."