Suffolk firefighters today launch a campaign to save their fire and rescue service from risking public safety, after funding cuts have left Suffolk’s fire cover worse than in neighbouring counties. The #RescueSuffolkFire campaign calls for an end to the erosion of fire cover and emergency response standards in the area, following years of ignored warnings about the effect of funding cuts.
Firefighters in Suffolk are demanding that the service:
- Commit to a minimum of five firefighters on every fire engine, ending the unsafe practice of three-person crewing
- Improve emergency response times in Suffolk without compromising the safety of firefighters
- Prioritise funding of frontline emergency response services rather than back-room projects
- Ensure firefighters are properly trained and that risk-critical training is part of a firefighter’s day-to-day job
- Listen to the warnings and concerns of firefighters and their elected representatives
Phil Johnston, FBU Suffolk brigade chair, said:
“For years now, firefighters in Suffolk have warned about deteriorating standards in our fire and rescue service, while management have ignored their concerns. Enough is enough – we won’t compromise on the safety of our community or our firefighters.
“Fire cuts in Suffolk have simply gone too far – residents now face a postcode lottery of public safety in the East of England. The lives of people in Suffolk are worth no less than those in neighbouring counties”
Response times in Suffolk are currently the slowest in the East of England. When a fire engine eventually does arrive[i], it’s possible that it will only have a crew of three firefighters on it. Firefighter jobs in Suffolk have been cut by 21% since 2010[ii], while central government funding has been cut by 18% since 2016/17[iii].
Suffolk firefighters have not been receiving adequate training to safely respond to emergencies. Many have been forced to attend risk-critical training on their days off, as the service cannot afford to train firefighters as part of their working day.
Firefighters are asking members of the public to sign a statement of support calling on Suffolk’s fire authority and county council to urgently change course and improve standards in the area’s fire and rescue service.
[i] Home Office fire statistics: FIRE1001 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/771329/fire-statistics-data-tables-fire1001-jan2019.xlsx