Lowestoft residents voice concerns over proposal to take away town fire engine

The public meeting held at Waveney District Council's Riverside offices to discuss proposed fire ser

The public meeting held at Waveney District Council's Riverside offices to discuss proposed fire service cuts in Lowestoft. - Credit: Archant

'I think we can remove one of four fire engines and still maintain a good level of cover in the town' – that was a chief fire officer's explanation as to why Lowestoft could lose an on-call fire engine under proposed cutbacks.

The public meeting held at Waveney District Council's Riverside offices to discuss proposed fire ser

The public meeting held at Waveney District Council's Riverside offices to discuss proposed fire service cuts in Lowestoft. - Credit: Archant

However, residents attending a public meeting in the coastal resort last night said plans to remove one of Lowestoft South's on-call fire engines could 'cost lives', due to the reduced fire cover it would leave for the town.

Suffolk chief fire officer Mark Hardingham and Matthew Hicks, Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for environment and public protection, explained at the event at Waveney District Council's Riverside offices that the service had to find £1.3m of savings from its £22m budget by 2017.

Mr Hardingham said that while the public perceived firefighters to be mainly responding to emergency calls, the amount of these across the county has fallen from around 8,000 in 2004/5 to just over 5,000 a year today – despite a rising population.

He believes the remaining on-call fire engine and full-time fire engine at Lowestoft South, together with the fire engine at Lowestoft North, would provide the necessary cover.

Lowestoft on call fire fighters are campaigning against the proposed cuts to the Fire Service.

Lowestoft on call fire fighters are campaigning against the proposed cuts to the Fire Service. - Credit: Nick Butcher

However full-time firefighter Peter Brown, 34, of Poplar Road, Carlton Colville, said: 'I'm worried it could have a massive impact on how we deal with things.' And Graham Banham, 59, from Henstead, said: 'You can't put a cost on lives.'

What do you think about the proposal? Email andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk

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