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‘Take a stand against dangerous fire station closures’

Josh Peck Josh Peck

Wednesday, February 6, 2013
1:40 PM

Josh Peck Labour Councillor for Bow West

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If you’ve ever dialled 999 for a fire engine, you’ll know that the wait for it to arrive can feel like hours.

In fact, it will almost always be a matter of minutes. Getting a response this quick to a 999 call is something we all rely on and that will have saved countless lives.

Even an extra minute or two can allow a fire to take hold and spread.

That’s why proposals just announced by Boris Johnson to close Bow, Silvertown and Kingsland fire stations, along with nine others across London – as well as taking a fire engine away from Whitechapel and six other stations – are so dangerous. Overall, London will lose 520 firefighters.

I visited Bow fire station last weekend with our GLA member John Biggs and other councillors. We met the firefighters who know the reality of these cuts.

The London Fire Authority promises that fire crews will still meet their six minute target for reaching fires.

But they don’t say that at the moment Bow fire crews reach most fires within four minutes, giving them crucial extra minutes. Neither do they mention that the six minute target is to reach the street address – if the fire is in a tower block, there’s then a climb up many flights of stairs, carrying full breathing apparatus and hoses, to reach the fire.

That extra two minutes before even reaching the bottom of the staircase can be a life or death matter.

These cuts are the reality of what Boris Johnson and David Cameron call austerity – deep cuts to public services that will put lives at risk.

Even worse, it seems Boris Johnson has concentrated closures, and therefore risk, in Labour boroughs (10 of the 12) so that he doesn’t upset the Conservative MPs he will need when he bids to be the next Conservative leader.

He’s even given four extra fire engines to Conservative areas.

It’s cynical, it’s wrong, it’s dangerous and all of us need to take a stand.

Please sign our petition at www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/against-tower-hamlets-police-and-fire-station-closures.

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