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11 June 2014
The last full time firefighters at Felixstowe have now been cut, following a decision by Suffolk County Council, as part of an agreed £22 million planned reduction to the annual Fire Service budget which began in 2011.
Despite fierce opposition from the local community and the Fire Brigades Union, Felixstowe Fire Station will now have 21 on-call firefighters left after this final stage of cuts. Despite a petition signed by more than 400 members of the public and a formal consultation with local people which revealed that 85% were opposed to the plans,
Suffolk Council voted to stand down the final four full-timers at Felixstowe.
Previously, the Council had voted to remove full-time firefighters at evenings and weekends, while the number stationed there from Monday to Friday between 08:00 and 18:00 had been cut from 12 to four.
Speaking to the BBC, Suffolk's chief fire officer Mark Hardingham said: "The fire service is having to manage and deliver a fire service with less money than it had three or four years ago.
"We know the response times at Felixstowe will increase slightly, however the important point here is this will impact on only two 999 calls a week and our experience suggests half of those calls turn out to be false alarms."
It is expected that the full time firefighters will be transferred to other stations in the area and a review of the changes will take place in 2015.
Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.