17 London Fire Stations Set To Close

Up to 17 London fire stations face the threat of closure, in a move that would see over 600 jobs lost, it was revealed yesterday.

Over the next two years, the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) is looking to save over £65m in government-imposed cuts. It appears one way to meet this figure, is to close a number of fire stations across the capital.

A list of the stations under threat appears to have been leaked to the BBC. Paul Embery from the Fire Brigades Union called the proposal, “the biggest threat since the days of the Luftwaffe”.  The stations at risk are said to be Acton, Bow, Belsize, Clapham, Clerkenwell, Downham, Islington, Kensington, Kingsland, Knightsbridge, New Cross, Peckham, Silvertown, Southwark, Westminster, Whitechapel and Woolwich.

At the London Assembly yesterday morning, LFEPA head James Cleverly insisted that there’s not just one list in existence, but several which outline a number of possible future strategies. Cleverly’s statement was somewhat undermined when fellow LFEPA member Andrew Dismore pointed out that the plan to close 17 stations was marked as the preferred choice.

Speaking at yesterday’s rather bad-tempered Mayor’s Question Time, Boris Johnson denied anything official had been decided, but insisted closures would not be accompanied by a reduction in safety. Cleverly echoed this in stating that any cuts in the number of fire stations or fire engine vehicles would not slow current response times.

As it stands today, LFEPA has to maintain response times to within six minutes for the first appliance and eight minutes for the second.  Over the past decade, there has been a decrease of over 50% in the number of fires in London and a cut in fatality rates of 1/3.  Surely then, to maintain safety and potentially improve these fire related figures, the LFEPA needs to maintain, if not increase, the number of fire stations and fire engines in operation?

Last week, Boris Johnson called for disused fire stations to be re-purposed as free schools despite a lack of empty fire stations at the time. Looks like he’s identified the future sites for his free schools.

The proposal is expected to be discussed by LFEPA in November later this year.

Photo by hey mr glen in the Londonist Flickr pool.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.bradbury.7 Lee Bradbury

    Shame to see that Acton, where my father was a Fireman in the Middlesex Fire Brigade & London Fire Brigade, looks like it might close.
    Thought it might after a recent photographic visit I had there and talking with the Watch on duty.

  • http://twitter.com/Assembly_Tories GLA Conservatives

    As James Cleverly has pointed out this document was a proposal, and these stations are not on the chopping block. Even if stations are to close as James Cleverly points out “Fire stations do not put out fires, firefighters do”. Read his blog entry which goes into more detail http://jamescleverly.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/the-truth-about-london-fire-station-closures/

    • http://londonist.com/ Rachel Holdsworth

      But it is the case that some stations will close (Boris Johnson said so quite unequivocally at yesterday’s MQT). News has been dripping out about this for weeks and it would surely be more productive if members of LFEPA, James Cleverly and the press person from the London Fire Brigade (who emailed us earlier with complaints) could clearly explain what was going on, and why cuts might not necessarily be such a bad thing. Cuts will always provoke a public backlash so, come on, and tell us why it’s fine. Most people will make the assumption that fewer stations = less safe. Perhaps instead of niggling away at individual writers, a public campaign of reassurance and education might be in order?

  • SW

    “Over the past decade, there has been a decrease of over 50% in the number of fires in London and a cut in fatality rates of 1/3. Surely then, to maintain safety and potentially improve these fire related figures, the LFEPA needs to maintain, if not increase, the number of fire stations and fire engines in operation?”
    Think about that for a second. How does keeping or increasing the number of fire stations lead to a reduction in the number of fires?
    Reduction in the number of fires is due to prevention work (installing smokes alarms, reducing arson, better building regulations etc), not number of fire stations. Fire stations and fire engines are only called into action when a fire has already started.
    To reduce the number of fires further, maybe LFEPA is right to close fire stations, and divert resources to more prevention activities.

    • Stevie D

      SW – I agree to a point. BUT, and it is a big but, there is no evidence, anywhere, ever, that prevention through installing smoke alarms works. Sure they save lives but they do not stop fires. There is a also a lot of hyperbole about home fire safety visits and it makes everyone feel nice. But no one has ever been able to show that it has done what people think it does. All the evidence shows that the real saviour has been the furniture regulations of more than 25 years ago that got rid of flammable stuffing from sofas and the like. Slowly but ever so surely these death traps have been taken out of the housing chain (with the porrest homes being last). And this piece of EU nanny state legislation from the days of Thatcher is the real cause of fires reducing. And it will continue to improve which means we simply dont need as many stations, engines or firefighters. I know this sounds bonkers but if LFEPA really wanted to keep cutting fires then they should basically hire lots of EU lobbyists to do other nanny state law making stuff. Mind you – that said – the Londonist reporter clearly hasnt a Scooby Doo about much given their throw away aside.

  • RHIANR

    It appears I need to clarify.

    Yes, the number of fires that occur in London has nothing to do with the number of fire stations in the capital but, less stations means that logically, the closures put into question the sustainability of the fatality rate figure that I stated in the latter half of my ‘aside.’ One of the ways fatality rates are reduced, is down to the speed a fire can be put out.

    Secondly, I agree – fire fighters are the ones who put out the fires, not the fire engines. But how can fire fighters continue to put out London fires without the resources stored in these fire stations? Or, will the fire engines and firemen currently operating from the stations that are set to close, be shoehorned into the stations that have avoided
    closure?

    And finally, I agree with Rachel, a public campaign of reassurance would put an end, once and for all, to the miscommunication and confusion surrounding what the future holds for the London Fire Brigade and how any changes made, will affect the public.