Calls to scrap plans to axe Silvertown fire station after man saved from major factory blaze
- Credit: Steve Poston
A major factory blaze has led to re-newed calls to save Silvetown fire station after crews dramatically saved the life of a man trapped inside.
The Fire Brigades Union, along with London Assembly member John Biggs, is calling on London Mayor Boris Johnson to abandon plans to axe the station after firefighters from Silvertown were first to arrive at the scene in Shirley Street, Canning Town, in the early hours of Thursday.
So severe was the fire that a further seven engines were mobilised, including one from Whitechapel fire station, which stands to lose an engine under government plans to save £45million from the London Fire Brigade’s budget over two years.
It took nearly five hours to bring the blaze under control, which happened in an industrial area facing major redevelopment in the coming years.
Firefighters also isolated potentially explosive gas cylinders from a car workshop in the building.
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The FBU’s regional secretary for London, Paul Embery, said: “We’ve said all along that these cuts will threaten lives, and this latest dramatic incident demonstrates why that is so.
“The casualty was in a desperate situation and if the response time had been a few seconds longer he may not have survived.
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“Silvertown crews were operating for some minutes before they received back-up, so we can reasonably assume that this casualty owes a lot - perhaps even his life - to Silvertown fire station.”
Last month data was released predicting that response time could double in some parts of London if the planned closures of 12 fire stations across the capital go ahead.
In the Royal Docks area average response times are set to increase from five minutes and 27 seconds to eight minutes and 39 seconds, an increase by more than three minutes and 12 seconds.
Firefighters from Silvertown reached the factory blaze in Shirley Street in five minutes.
Labour’s London Assembly member for City and East, John Biggs, said: “Incidents such as this just go to show how valuable the fire crews at the stations Boris wants to close are.
“The closure of Silvertown fire station will leave a blue hole in this part of Newham. The firefighters here have worked hard with local businesses and residents to improve fire safety.
“This area is earmarked for massive regeneration and the need for a dedicated fire station, manned with a crew who know the area, is and will be invaluable.”
The London Mayor’s office failed to respond in time to the criticism.
A spokesman for London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: “Firefighters who attended this incident did a very good job. It is impossible though for anyone to speculate about what may or may not have happened under different circumstances.
“The proposals currently out for public consultation seek to maintain our London-wide response targets of six minutes for the first fire engine and eight minutes for the second fire engine.”