Council sends officer to barn blaze - after local complains about smoke

FELIXSTOWE: A council today defended a decision to send an officer to a barn blaze because a resident complained about smoke from the fire.

Farmer John Adams, who watched on anxiously as firefighters tackled the blaze at Marsh Lane, Old Felixstowe, claimed the complaint was “misplaced interference”.

It is understood concerns centred on the way the incident was being handled – and the possibility of dangerous asbestos particles escaping from the roof of the structure.

Mr Adams said: “It was a distressing and traumatic few hours where the main priority for us all was for the safety of people and livestock – all, it seems, with the exception of one Felixstowe resident who saw fit to make a complaint to the council because he had not been warned by the fire service about the smoke!

“Hard to believe, but not only did the council afford credibility to such a complaint, a council representative visited the site – on a Sunday – while the fire brigade were still working to contain the fire to the barn and avoid damage to further property and stables, including our home, all of which could have been in real danger.”

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A spokesman for Suffolk Coastal said the complainant had been invited onto the site by the fire service with whom he had been liaising before contacting the council.

An emergency standby officer visited the site because the complainant had expressed strong concerns about potential problems caused by the blaze and had not received sufficient assurances from the fire service.

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The spokesman said: “As agreed with the fire officer, our officer attended to assess the scale of the incident and to make sure that there were no implications for the wider community.

“The visit quickly confirmed that the fire was mainly straw and hay and was confined within a dutch barn-style building having an asbestos cement roof, which the firefighters were dampening down to prevent any release into the wider area.

“After just over 30 minutes, both our officer and the complainant left the site reassured that everything that could be done was being done.”

There was no extra cost to the taxpayer as the council operates a 24-hour emergency service and the officer was on duty already.

n Was the council right to send an officer? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

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