What have we learnt since the Tory run County Council started their consultation on the review of the fire service?
- At the consultation event, we saw 4 very different pictures of what a Rapid Response Vehicle could look like.
- We did not get any detail on how many firefighters, what equipment, what calls it could go to.
- That calls in Sudbury and area have not dropped like the County and National trend but flat lined.
- That Sudbury’s engines serve different purposes. The 2nd engine is a specialist engine for road traffic accidents, do we want to lose this as only 3 in County?
- The Chief Fire Officer was adamant that the proposals were “fit for purpose in his professional opinion.” Though he also admitted they were “challenging circumstances.”
- The public and the eloquent firefighters that evening made it clear they saw the proposals leading to increased and unacceptable risk.
- Some believed that the RRV should be stationed at Nayland replacing its engine (due to shortages of retained staff) and not Sudbury which should keep its second engine. Representatives from Nayland believed both places should keep their engines.
- Sudbury has submitted well over 3200 responses to the consultation. There was a wonderful moment when the firefighters handed over a 2000+ pile!
- The Portfolio Holder claims the consultation is important and that NO decisions have been made already. A vital reason to fill out the consultation but many in the hall were cynical of this claim by him.
What is becoming clear is that the Tories do believe that they are giving the Fire Service the resources to provide a fit for purpose service. This is their political judgement. I believe the Tories are wrong. Unfortunately, if these cuts occur, proof that they were not fit for purpose will be in circumstances or incidents that no one wants or would wish to see.
We have a government that ideologically believes in a small state, that plans to eliminate the deficit by the end of the Parliament. Therefore in 2 years time, I predict, we will be back here again and hearing the words “fit for purpose”all over again.