Remember those 27 fire engines taken away from London fire stations before the firefighters' strike? And how they're still not back, as London Fire Authority head Brian Coleman sarcastically ponders whether London needs them or not? One of those removed engines used to be stationed at Holloway Fire Station in Hornsey Road, and a row has broken out after a woman died on Sunday night.
Fire broke out around 10pm in 74-year-old Mary Kendrick's seventh floor flat, just 90 seconds away from Holloway Fire Station, but the one remaining engine was out dealing with a burst water main. Firefighters from Islington were despatched and reached the fire within eight minutes, but were unable to save the pensioner.
Paul Carpen, a Fire Brigades Union rep from Holloway told the Islington Gazette:
"If that pump was here we could have been at the incident in 90 seconds to two minutes. Within five minutes we could have been on the top floor and giving her first aid."
Another Holloway firefighter said they can't know for certain whether they could have saved her life, but where fires are concerned time is crucial. We think it's time London got its fire engines back, especially now the dispute over shift patterns is in arbitration.