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Fire fighters unaware of Sudbury blaze because of possible pager failure

Firefighters tackle the blaze in Friars Street, Sudbury ANL-150709-164211001
Firefighters tackle the blaze in Friars Street, Sudbury ANL-150709-164211001

Following the major fire in Sudbury town centre on Sunday the fire service is conducting an investigation after technical problems meant fire crews in Sudbury were not all alerted to the emergency, despite it being just seconds away from the town’s fire station.

It is believed that five of the eight crew members pagers failed to go off, meaning a crew from neighbouring Long Melford was actually the first on the scene, 15 minutes after the blaze was first reported and two minutes before a crew from Sudbury.

Nobody was killed as a result of the fire, which saw 20 households evacuated, with a Long Melford fireman hailed as a hero after rescuing a woman trapped in a second floor property.

One woman told the Free Press “I was standing with a firefighters child down the meadows when we heard fire engines, it was quite some time before the Sudbury firefighters alerter went off.

“We had heard several sirens at that point, he even got it out to check it was working.”

Mark Sanderson, deputy chief fire officer for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Our alerting equipment is being looked at the moment and we think that there could of something on the day that happened there, but the initial tests we’ve done reveal that the hardware, the way the systems operate, were working OK.”

He added that they were now checking the radio signal.

As a precaution all fire service pagers in Suffolk will be replaced.

Work continues to make the buildings safe, with the junction between Market Hill and Friars Street remaining closed.

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