Fire service unveils new safety plan

SUFFOLK Fire Service is planning to review how many engines it sends to an emergency and the timeframe it aims to attend these calls as part of its annual fire safety plan.

By Danielle Nuttall

SUFFOLK Fire Service is planning to review how many engines it sends to an emergency and the timeframe it aims to attend these calls as part of its annual fire safety plan.

The service will also look at the current protocol for attending road traffic accidents to decide whether firefighters should automatically attend some crashes before waiting to be called by the ambulance service.

The measures are outlined in this year's Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP), which sets out the action needed to improve the fire authority.

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Like many other fire sevices, Suffolk operates emergency responses according to guidance set in 1944, which is based on risk to buildings rather than people. But the service now intends to draw up its own.

Eddie Meelan, senior divisional officer with Suffolk Fire Service, said: “It's quite an old system which has been about since the war. It signifies the number of fire engines and the time for those engines to get to a particular area.

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“It's very prescript. It's about buildings, and is based on when Ipswich had a large dock area.

“We want to look now at the people side of it. What is the risk within the county? We need to concentrate our efforts there. It's about looking how we change our response package.”

Another area to be looked at as part of the plan is response to road traffic accidents. Presently, fire crews only attend road accidents after being contacted by paramedics at the scene to say someone is trapped in a vehicle.

“What this is looking to do is to say should we make an earlier response than what we do already?” said Mr Meelan.

“Do we need to get out to any call where there has been an accident before we know if there is someone trapped?

“It's looking to make an earlier response if the need is there, following the review. It certainly would not be a cut in the service, if anything an enhanced service.”

The fire service has already changed the way it responds to calls prompted by a fire alarm. If no fire is confirmed, it will now send one fire engine instead of two.

It has also decided if control room staff believe fire crews are not the best people to deal with an emergency, they will not attend and instead another agency will be alerted.

Elsewhere in the 2007-8 plan, the fire service outlines aims to reduce the number of people killed or injured on the county's roads.

It hopes to include a new road safety centre at its new training centre, due to be built by 2008, and work with other agencies on preventative work.

The risk management plan also contains the fire service's proposals for replacing stations in Ipswich, Hadleigh, Nayland, Needham Market, Clare and two in Lowestoft through Private Finance Initiatives.

Mr Meelan said it was hoped building would begin during 2007-8.

nA consultation period will run until September 29 to enable members of the public to read and express their opinions on the new action plan.

A booklet with all the details is available in local libraries, council office receptions and the main fire stations at Bury, Ipswich Fire HQ and Lowestoft. The plan is also published on Suffolk County Council's website,

If you wish to make a comment you can write to IRMP Consultation, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, Suffolk County Council, FREEPOST NAT 18364, Ipswich IP1 2BR, e-mail or telephone 01473 588888.

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