‘Cornard fire shows need for second engine’

Sudbury's protest against the loss of the town's second fire engine. ANL-151027-135656009
Sudbury's protest against the loss of the town's second fire engine. ANL-151027-135656009
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Campaigners say a fire in Great Cornard on Tuesday shows why a cut-threatened second fire engine in Sudbury is so important.

Crews from Halstead, Hadleigh and Ixworth were called to support Sudbury firefighters putting out the house fire in Raydon Way.

Teams were called out at 12.01pm, with the ground floor blaze put out by 1.20pm.

A woman was taken to hospital with shock but there were no serious injuries.

Despite successfully putting out the fire, campaigners from Sudbury and Cornard Against Fire Cuts have highlighted the lack of local appliances supporting the Sudbury engine as key to the need for the town’s second engine to be retained.

Sudbury’s second engine would not start due to a flat battery, while the campaign group said other engines from nearby stations were unable to attend due to crew unavailability.

This was denied by Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).

Suffolk County Council has announced proposals to replace Sudbury’s second engine with a rapid response vehicle (RRV) due to budget cuts, but has not stated the size of the vehicle, what equipment it will include, or how many retained firefighters will lose their jobs.

A spokesman for the campaign group said: “An incident as highlighted today reinforces the utter farcical and preposterous proposals set out.

“If in future the proposals are actioned and Sudbury finds itself with one fire engine and a small rapid response vehicle, it brings to the forefront some very serious questions and issues that need to be addressed.

“RRVs are smaller than a standard engine, they carry less crew and less vital equipment. At this stage SFRS don’t know what equipment it will carry.

“At the recent town council meeting both Mr Hicks and Mr Hardingham assured the public that nearby stations would be able to safeguard the town and its people. Yesterday exposed obvious flaws in their proposals in that the nearest three Suffolk fire stations were not available due to crew unavailability.

“How long will Sudbury and Cornard residents have to wait if the changes are made? The proposals have detailed a saving of £35,000 per annum.

“Is this saving worth a life or a lost livelihood? The answer from the public has to be a resounding no.”

A spokesman for SFRS said additional resources were immediately mobilised from Essex and an attending appliance was stood down en route due to sufficient resources.

An appliance was called up from Clare due to operator error but then stood down.

He added that no appliances were unable to attend because of a lack of personnel.

Dan Gurney who witnessed the fire, said on Facebook: “I was at the fire and arrived with the first pump and saw what an amazing job the guys did. It was a concern the other support had to come from another county.

“I had to help with the hose. The support from the two units at Halstead was much appreciated but I dread to think the outcome had it been late at night and the fire hadn’t been noticed by a neighbour.

“More support has to be shown to save this crucial service in Sudbury or lives could be put at risk.”