On the day the consultation closes on proposed cuts to fire services, a Westminster Councillor has claimed that the Buckingham Palace fire of 2002 could have been 'on the scale of Windsor Castle' had it not been for the number of fire engines quickly sent to tackle the blaze.
A fire broke out at the Queen’s central London residence in 2002 as Buckingham Palace prepared to host a pop concert. Over 20 fire engines were sent to the Palace and were able to quickly bring the fire under control – limiting the damage to the building and its priceless contents. Many people will remember that Windsor Castle was not as fortunate when it caught light back in 1992, prompting a repair bill of over £32m.
The Westminster Council’s Cabinet member for public protection Cllr Nickie Aiken, made the comments in a letter to the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA). In it, she also sets out that Westminster should be seen as a special case due to abundance of high-rise buildings, number of museums and galleries and its potential as a target for terrorism.
Under the planned cuts, 12 of London’s fire stations will be closed, 18 fire engines will go out of service and there’ll be around 520 fewer fire fighters – including Greycoat Place fire station, spitting distance from Buckingham Palace.
Speaking of the cuts, Cllr Aiken said:
“Even by their own figures it could take up to 15 minutes for fire officers to arrive at the scene of a fire and even longer to actually start tackling it.
“And you only have to go back to 2002 when Buckingham Palace had a fire. More than 20 appliances were needed to tackle it and rescue valuable artworks.
“There was a very real chance that without that level of attendance we could have been looking at a blaze on the scale of Windsor Castle."
Today is the last chance that Londoners can add their voice to the plans to cut services. To respond to the consultation, visit: http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/lsp5.asp#.Ub71QOfbPp8