Town unites against cuts to fire services

Sudbury's protest against the possible cuts to the fire service in the town and the possible loss of the town's second fire engine. the campaign is being backed by the SFP. ANL-151027-135720009
Sudbury's protest against the possible cuts to the fire service in the town and the possible loss of the town's second fire engine. the campaign is being backed by the SFP. ANL-151027-135720009

A woman who was dramatically rescued from her home during the fire in Sudbury in September has backed the Free Press campaign against cuts to the town’s fire service.

There are concerns that Sudbury may lose its second fire engine, with cuts of around £1million expected to hit Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service.

Having been on a B-list for previous cuts to the service, it is feared this time Sudbury’s second appliance will be scrapped when Suffolk County Council announces its proposed savings.

On Tuesday, Elison and Christina Deke, who was carried down by ladder from her burning home, were joined by fellow Sudbury residents, business owners, councillors and serving and former firefighters to campaign to keep the town’s second engine.

Young and old were present to show their opposition to what they say is a vital and life-saving service, particularly in a town with numerous historic wooden buildings.

Many are concerned about the consequences of another fire such as that seen in the town centre on September 6, if services were reduced.

Businesses along Friars Street, which were, and continue to be, affected by the fire have pledged support to the campaign, while Sudbury mayor Jack Owen has said it is vital the second engine remains.

Mrs Deke, who was rescued just moments before her property was totally engulfed by flames, said: “We were really affected by the fire. I was rescued so I felt I really needed to support them. We benefitted most from the fire service.

Mr Deke added: “I don’t think if there was just one engine they would have been able to put out the fire.

“We need more trucks. The more there are the better it is to assist our community.”

Mrs Deke said the local fire crews provided an “essential service”, adding that she did not think there should be cuts when lives were involved.

Peter Bromley, Sudbury’s Fire Brigade Union representative, said: “Sudbury fire crews have been made aware that our fire station, your fire station stands in line, once again, to be cut.

“To save money, Sudbury may have its second fire appliance removed, permanently.

“This is simply not acceptable and we call on you, the people of Sudbury and the surrounding villages to rally to show the county council that this cannot be allowed to go ahead.

“Sudbury has lost its full time firefighters, its water bowser and the drill tower.

“By the end of next year, Sudbury station could have just one fire engine sitting in its three bays, three bays that your taxpayers’ money has paid for.

“We implore you to get involved, get in touch with your MP and local councillors, let them know that this is not acceptable to the people of this town to drop its fire cover yet again.”

Carol and John Wells contacted the Free Press to share their opposition to the cuts.

They wrote: “We totally support the appeal not to downgrade Sudbury Fire Station.

“Sudbury is constantly expanding with new houses being built and businesses expanding.

“We rely on the part-timers who perform a superb job, often under difficult circumstances and downgrading will leave Sudbury unprotected.

“For many instances two pumps are needed.

“Do we need someone to die before the powers that be realise Sudbury is continuing to grow at a fast rate and two pump cover is needed?

“Perhaps after the recent fire some businesses will allow their staff who are retained fireman to leave their work in time of emergency.”

Sudbury’s mayor Jack Owen has also questioned the future role of the firefighters, concerned that some on-call crew members will be laid off if the second appliance is scrapped.