Free smoke alarms could be axed as Norfolk Fire Service tries to save millions of pounds

Cuts to fire services under discussion Cuts to fire services under discussion

David Bale david.bale2@archant.co.uk
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
7:12 AM

Cuts to fire services in Norfolk to plug the county council’s funding gap will be discussed next week, after a public consultation.

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People were asked for their views on how the county council should make savings over the next three years to plug a projected £189m funding gap and how the fire service should respond to the operational challenges that it faces in that time.

In a 12-week Putting People First public consultation, which ran last year, people were asked to comment on proposals to purchase different, cost-effective fire vehicles for 12 part-time fire stations, and to stop supplying and fitting free smoke detectors to people in their homes.

Overall, there were 403 responses to the proposals, including a total of 19 organisations.

The proposal to purchase different, cost-effective fire vehicles for some stations was broadly supported by the public, although concerns were raised in relation to response times and the ability of smaller vehicles to do the job effectively.

Those in favour of an end to supplying and fitting free smoke detectors expressed the view that smoke detectors were widely available, cheap and easy to fit so people could do it themselves. Those against raised concerns about the increased risk of injury or death in a house fire to vulnerable people.

Dan Roper, the county council’s cabinet member for public protection, said: “It has been important to get feedback from Norfolk’s residents.

“We are facing a huge financial challenge and the comments we have received will be used to help inform the tough decisions we need to make to plug the significant funding gap.

“We have had a broadly positive response to the two main proposals as it is clear the public understands the type of financial pressure the service is under.

“There have been some alternative ideas put forward including how vehicles could be used differently and how the provision of smoke detectors free of charge might be scaled back rather than cut completely. These are all suggestions that we will seriously consider.”

Norfolk County Council’s Putting People First budget consultation and Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service’s ‘Peer Challenge’ will be discussed by councillors on Wednesday, January 22.

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