Westminster fire station closure plans: “˜Everyone should worry’

Westminster fire station in Greycoat Place, Pimlico, is one of 17 fire stations earmarked for closure on a list leaked to the BBC.

Paddington station in Harrow Road and Soho station in Shaftesbury Avenue escaped the list, but union leaders warned the closure would jeopardise response times and fire cover across Westminster.

The borough’s firefighters last year attended more than 5,200 false alarms – greater than anywhere else in the capital – more than 1,000 fires and more than 1,800 other incidents, making it one of the most testing boroughs in London.

Fire Brigade Union regional secretary Paul Embery said: “Everyone should be concerned, even if it isn’t your local fire station that is closing down.

“They can say that the first fire engine will still be on the scene within six minutes but that is misleading, because when you need back-up, you’ll need to call in engines from other stations nearby.

“People need to understand that these proposals jeopordise the safety of everyone.

“It’s an old cliché, but in a fire seconds count; the difference between dying from smoke inhalation and living comes down to a few seconds.

“You can’t shut down so many fire stations, and make so many firefighters redundant, without putting lives at risk.”

A London Fire Brigade (LFB) spokesman told the Wood&Vale that Westminster fire station did not have a specific patch, but would respond to calls across the borough depending on need. If it was to close, the nearest extra support would come from Euston, Belsize Park and West Hampstead stations.

London Assembly member Murad Qureshi said: “In such a densely populated borough, which holds the biggest leisure and licensing areas in the country, there is a very unique need and we must have adequate cover.

“Not only should we be concerned for those living in Pimlico and Victoria, but everyone in Westminster should worry.”

The leak comes as the Brigade have been asked by Mayor of London Boris Johnson to save £64.8million over the next two years.

An LFB spokesman said: “Like virtually every other public service, the Brigade is facing the need to make savings. There is a target for these savings but the full details will not be known until at least December, when the government announces its grant to the Brigade.

“We expect to be able to maintain our current target response times. No decisions about any possible fire station closures have yet been taken. Before they are, there will be a full public consultation.”

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