New fire stations planned for Suffolk

THREE new fire stations are being planned across Suffolk.Sites have been identified for the fire stations in Hadleigh, Needham Market and east Ipswich, in the Kesgrave/Martlesham area.

THREE new fire stations are being planned across Suffolk.

Sites have been identified for the fire stations in Hadleigh, Needham Market and east Ipswich, in the Kesgrave/Martlesham area.

The schemes are being funded by a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and will see new stations replacing existing ones.

But one retained firefighter in Hadleigh expressed concerns that the town's proposed new fire station was too far out of town.

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The two sites the Fire Authority is believed to be considering for the town are both on the Lady Lane Industrial Estate, replacing the existing facility in the Market Place.

Paul Barton, a Hadleigh resident and retained firefighter, said he feared the location of the new station could add vital minutes to response times.

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"The way retained stations work relies on us being able to get to the station fairly promptly," he said.

"In an ideal world, we'll be able to drive to the station in a couple of minutes but if we're in the High Street and have to run a mile-and-a-half up a hill, it will waste valuable time.

"Seconds feel like minutes in this job, and minutes feel like hours.

"I'm not opposed to a new fire station, but I think this is a financial decision. The fire station is essentially a garage for the fire engine and I don't see why it can't stay in the middle of town."

He added: "It concerns me more as a resident because if my house is on fire, I want to see a fire engine there as quickly as possible."

A new fire station is being built in Newmarket, starting either this month or next. It is due to be completed in September or October.

The current site has been sold to developers and is being transformed into a supermarket.

A spokesman for the Suffolk Fire Service said: "The plans for new three fire stations are at an early stage.

"Sites have been identified for the new stations but there are still negotiations to be carried out.

"Every new station is closely governed by standards of fire cover, so they are within an acceptable distance for retained personnel being able to get there quickly, and the sites we have selected are sound."

Private Finance Initiative is a means of funding new public building projects and was introduced under the Conservative government and extended under Labour, despite opposition from unions.

The private sector is contracted to design and build a new building, and also to manage it. The building is not publicly owned but leased by a public authority, like a council or health trust, from the private sector.

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