Around 80 people attended the public meeting on 1st February where the Chief Fire Officer, Mark Hardingham and Cllr Matthew Hicks sort to explain and 'sell' the proposed cuts to frontline fire engines and firefighters.
The meeting, held at the swanky new council offices at Riverside, Lowestoft was well stage-managed and largely deflected any major spats for the the Fire Service or County Council.
We sat on tables of 8, each with an officer present to answer general questions - our table was fortunate to have local Group Commander, John Tiffen.
I have to say I've never seen so many officers in one place unless you count Endeavour House...
The Chief gave a short presentation to explain the reduction and now plateau-ing of fires and RTC's and where the proposed cuts will be. We then, on each table discussed the proposals with the officer and numerous Lowestoft firefighters present able to answer questions from members of the public. Hopefully the answers given by the firefighters were not only helpful but from the heart, backed up by many years of operational experience.
Each table then had a visit from the Chief for 10 minutes to answer questions followed soon after by Cllr Hicks for his allotted 10 minutes.
I found the Chief to be open and honest and found that Cllr Hicks was the archetypal politician - smooth-talking and able to deflect questions with the ease of an accomplished batsman.
My final point to Cllr Hicks went something like this:
Me: Call me cynical but with the decision on these proposals being taken by the Cabinet whose nine members are all Conservative, these cuts are a done deal.
Cllr Hicks: No, we'll be taking into consideration all the feedback given by people answering the consultation questionnaire.
Me [under my breath]: Bollocks!
My own view is that the proposals have been drafted with a little wriggle room. And I think it will be to not cut three fire engines in Ipswich but lose two instead.
Time will tell...
But I can promise you this.
The thin red line will get thinner. Response times to all incidents will take longer - we're missing our self-imposed targets already, before the cuts.
And when your house is on fire and you need rescuing - EVERY SECOND COUNTS!