Fire visits to be cut

FIREFIGHTERS are set to make fewer visits to community groups in Suffolk as the county’s fire chiefs attempt to cut costs.

Instead of sending out firefighters to speak about safety measures and fire prevention in the home, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service will be offering groups the chance to visit stations.

The service is under considerable pressure to cut its spending across the board and assistant chief fire officer Mark Sanderson said the facilities at several fire stations had been upgraded and were ideal for visits from large groups.

He said: “We are facing budget cuts but we will continue to provide advice to our communities in Suffolk.

“Our view is that preventing fire is still just as important as responding to them. We are continually looking for new and better ways to do this [offer advice to people].

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“We do want to better target our resources, which are limited, to those who most need our help.”

He said the service was reviewing all of its community work and he admitted that it was likely that in the future firefighters would be making less community visits

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He said: “No final decisions have been made about which support we are going to be continuing with and what we are going to stop doing in the future.

“It [community safety] is a statutory obligation and we have a duty to provide fire safety to our communities and businesses.

“Irrespective of the budget cuts, what we are doing at the moment is putting a lot of investment into our fire stations. Our stations are being refurbished as we speak and we are building a brand new station in the east of Ipswich.

“The new community room at Bury [station] is designed to be more accessible to the public, with better facilities. But there will be groups that we go out to speak to. It’s getting the balance right. We haven’t made any firm decisions.”

He said there were “different ways of spreading different messages” and it was down to local managers to decide how to get them across to the public.

He added: “We, like all other public bodies, are facing challenges and reduced budgets but at the same time we have a statutory obligation to maintain, which is providing fire safety advice.”

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