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Emotional firefighters say goodbye to Belsize Fire Station

Firefighters leave Belsize Fire Station for the last time. Picture: Nigel Sutton. Firefighters leave Belsize Fire Station for the last time. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Thursday, January 9, 2014
11:48 AM

Firefighters stood shoulder to shoulder outside Belsize Fire Station for the last time this morning as the historic station closed its doors on 100 years of service.

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Demonstrators outside Belsize Fire Station protesting against the station closure. Picture: Nigel Sutton.Demonstrators outside Belsize Fire Station protesting against the station closure. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

They were greeted by crowds of supporters as they left the station having rescued a man from a fourth floor flat fire in Oval Road, Camden Town, just hours earlier that morning.

Emotional staff at the station in Lancaster Grove, Belsize Park, emerged from the Grade II listed building having finished their final shift just after 9.30am.

The station, which opened in 1915, is one of 10 London fire stations closing as part of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson’s, bid to make £29million savings.

Firefighters based at the station will now move to different stations across London while it is believed the station’s engine will head to Kentish Town Fire Station.

As staff left today, security officials moved in to take control of the building.

At this stage, the station’s future use is uncertain but there are fears it will be converted into luxury private homes.

To mark today’s closure, demonstrators led by Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden, Andrew Dismore, and Labour’s Hampstead and Kilburn parliamentary candidate Cllr Tulip Siddiq gathered outside the station.

Addressing the demonstration against the closure, Mr Dismore said: “We will see more people die as a result of these cuts... Boris Johnson should be ashamed of himself.”

It is believed average response times for fire engines will soar following the closures, with residents in six Camden wards having to wait an extra minute or more for an engine.

Belsize ward will be the hardest hit, with the average waiting time nearly doubling from four minutes 37 seconds to seven minutes 59 seconds.

James Cleverly, chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), said: “Londoners will continue to receive one of the fastest emergency response times in the world from the London Fire Brigade.

“The brigade is faced with significant budget cuts which mean that changes to the service are inevitable and we are able to make those changes without compulsory redundancies.”

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