The amended proposals (below) will be proposed at a Council’s Cabinet meeting on 17 May:
- Maintain the existing two fire engines and the on-call fire fighters at Sudbury Fire Station
- Maintain Wrentham Fire Station and 8 on-call firefighters, replacing the existing fire engine with a smaller rapid response fire engine
- Remove the second full-time fire engine at Princes Street, Ipswich and reduce the number of full time fire fighters at Princes Street by 16 instead of 20. The additional four fire fighters will be used to crew on-call fire engines across the county during weekdays
- Maintain the on-call fire engine and the on-call fire fighters at Princes Street, Ipswich
- Remove the third fire engine at Ipswich East Fire Station but reduce the number of on-call firefighters from 21 to 15 instead of the 13 that was originally proposed
- Remove the third fire engine at Bury St Edmunds Fire Station but reduce the number of on-call firefighters from 21 to 15 instead of the 13 that was originally proposed
- Remove the third fire engine from Lowestoft South Fire Station but reduce the number of on-call firefighters from 21 to 15 instead of the 13 that was originally proposed
- Develop plans for a new ‘blue light’ fire station in Ipswich, or a refurbishment of the existing Princes Street station, to share facilities with Police and Ambulance services
The amended proposals are an improvement on the original options and protect Wrentham Fire Station from closure, maintains the frontline appliances at Sudbury and saves more On-Call jobs, all of which are welcomed by the RFU. However, we are disappointed that there is still no mention of how the service proposes to overcome its recruitment and retention issues which causes a number of On-Call appliances to be off the run. To cut their On-Call establishment in an effort to save money just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny considering the paltry sums of money involved.
The proposal to use surplus wholetime staff at Ipswich to cover shortages can only be seen as a very expensive short-term fix.
We will continue to offer Suffolk the opportunity to discuss with them new more modern methods of recruiting On-Call firefighters and how to retain the current establishment, which is just as important.
There are other services across the country that are already undertaking pro-active measures that are providing positive outcomes in terms of improving appliance availability.
Let’s hope Suffolk take notice!