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Thursday, 28 June, 2001, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
Fire crews grounded over phone mast row
Sudbury Fire Station
The drill tower has several mobile phone aerials
Fire officers in Suffolk are refusing to use their drill tower because of fears the mobile phone masts on top are a health risk.

The 18 firefighters at Sudbury Fire Station would normally use the 60ft tower every Thursday to practice their life-saving skills.

But the fire crews said they are not prepared to climb the training tower while the aerials are there.

The Fire Brigades Union said similar action could be taken at other stations in the area where phone masts had been put on top of drill towers.

Our members won't use the towers until there is a guarantee they are safe

Adrian Mayhew, Fire Brigades Union

Suffolk Fire Service said the antennae were operating well within health and safety guidelines and posed no hazard to health.

The Service has mobile telephone base stations fitted to training towers of three of its fire stations at Sudbury, Felixstowe and Woodbridge.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Paul Hayden said in a statement: "Permission to use our training towers was only given after a full risk assessment was completed in order to identify any possible dangers to health.

Safety first

"The installation meets the safety requirements of the National Radiological Protection Board and we are fully satisfied that there are no risks to the health and welfare of our staff or members of the public.

Adrian Mayhew, from the Fire Brigades Union in Suffolk, said: "Our members won't use the towers until there is a guarantee they are safe.

"We've seen this happen up and down the country. It's more to do with money than health and safety."

Prime sites

Barrie Turner-Smith, from One2One said training towers were prime sites for their aerials up and down the country because of their height.

"This is the first one we have had a problem with, as far as I am aware.

"If there are any concerns we go and meet with the fire people and discuss it with them.

"We are satisfied that mobile base stations operating within national and international guidelines are safe and do not present a health risk," he added.

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See also:

24 Nov 00 | Scotland
New curbs on mobile masts
11 Sep 00 | Scotland
Phone mast regulations tightened
11 Nov 99 | Scotland
Public plea for phone masts ban
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