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Sudbury fire: Retained fire fighters pagers being investigated

  • 9-17-2015

Only three of eight pagers for retained fire fighters went off when they were needed to tackle a blaze in Suffolk.

An 18th Century building containing two businesses was destroyed in Sudbury on Sunday, with one woman rescued from an upstairs flat.

Suffolk Fire Service was investigating why all on-call fire fighters at Sudbury station were not alerted.

The Sudbury engine arrived two minutes later than the Long Melford crew, which was three miles further away.

The fire service said the control room was called at 18:17 BST and the first engine, also crewed by on-call retained fire fighters, arrived from Long Melford at 18:32 BST.

The engine from Sudbury, which was based about 300 yards from the fire on Market Hill, arrived at 18:34 BST.

'Under-investment'

The 15-minute response time missed the target of 11 minutes.

Mark Hardingham, Suffolk's chief fire officer, said paging equipment was usually "pretty reliable and effective".

"There are a number of factors that affect the way the equipment operates, so we need to look at each one of those before we can make any firm conclusions," he said.

"Initial tests reveal the hardware and the way the system operates was OK, but we're now working with Ofcom and Arqiva to check the radio signal in the Sudbury area."

Suffolk County Council is considering making £1m cuts to the fire service's £22m annual budget by 2016/17. Fire stations outside of Ipswich, Lowestoft and Bury St Edmunds are only staffed by retained crews following previous cuts.

Andy Vingoe, Suffolk chairman of the Fire Brigades Union, said: "The whole thing just goes to show the under-investment we have in the fire service at the moment.

"This fire shows they got there just in time that night - next time we don't know if we're going to be so lucky."

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2015 BBC


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