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  1. ITV Report

Firefighters protest over cuts to crew numbers

More than 100 firefighters from all over the country joined the protest in Ipswich. Credit: ITV News Anglia

More than 100 firefighters have staged a protest in Suffolk over plans to cut the number of firefighters on some fire engines from five to three.

The Fire Brigades' Union is warning the changes proposed by the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service are not safe and will put crews at the public in danger.

Fire chiefs are determined to push ahead insisting the policy is both effective and safe.

  • Click below to watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Natalie Gray

"We've have the longest waiting time for a fire engine in the entire eastern region.

"we've had the largest percentage of cuts to firefighter numbers in the eastern region, and now this is all leading us to a dangerous reduced crew of three policy.

– Riccardo La Torre, Firefighter and FBU regional secretary
The FBU is concerned reducing fire engine crewing to three firefighters is not safe Credit: ITV News Anglia

Firefighters from all over the country joined the demonstration outside the headquarters of Suffolk County Council in Ipswich.

The FBU says between 2010 to 2019, Suffolk saw the number of firefighters drop by 178 - a 23% decrease in numbers. In Essex, numbers fell by 250 - down 18%.

In England, firefighter numbers have been cut by 21% since 2010, with nearly 11,500 fewer UK firefighters than in 2010.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service says the new policy is both effective and safe. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"I'm very proud of our fire and rescue service and of the firefighters, officers and non-operational staff who work tirelessly for local communities.

"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.

"I respect the democratic rights of the FBU to protest today and make their views known."

– Mark Hardingham, Chief Fire Officer, Suffolk Fire and Rescue