Suffolk Fire service 'cannot afford' to train firefighters

Fire engine
Image caption The FBU said "cuts in Suffolk have simply gone too far"

A fire service cannot afford to train firefighters leading to them coming in on their days off, a union claims.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has started a campaign to "rescue" Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service.

It claims response times are the lowest in the East of England and has smaller teams due to cuts.

The service's chief fire officer said the "right number of professional, trained firefighters" will respond to 999 calls.

The FBU is demanding the service commits to having five firefighters on every engine, improves response times and prioritises funding for frontline emergency services.

The union said many firefighters had been "forced to attend risk-critical training on their days off" as the service "cannot afford to train firefighters as part of their working day".

Phil Johnston, FBU Suffolk brigade chairman, said: "Enough is enough - we won't compromise on the safety of our community or our firefighters.

"Fire cuts in Suffolk have simply gone too far - residents now face a postcode lottery of public safety in the East of England. The lives of people in Suffolk are worth no less than those in neighbouring counties."

Chief fire officer Mark Hardingham said: "Suffolk is a safe place to live, work and travel from a fire service perspective and as chief fire officer I am committed to both public and firefighter safety.

"If you ever need the fire service in an emergency then dial 999 and the right number of professional, trained firefighters will respond from your nearest fire stations - and on average will arrive within about 10 minutes of being alerted."

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