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Firefighters call for public support to save Belsize Fire Station from closure

Camden firefighters (from left to right): Alan Yarrow, Ben Sprung and Keiron Chkiantz-Cashin. Camden firefighters (from left to right): Alan Yarrow, Ben Sprung and Keiron Chkiantz-Cashin.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013
5:03 PM

Firefighters in Camden are urging residents to put their weight behind a campaign to protect lives by stopping the closure of Belsize Fire Station.

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The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) launched their bid to save the Belsize station, in Lancaster Grove, Belsize Park, with a public meeting at Hampstead Town Hall last night.

The station is one of 12 across London slated for closure under Mayor Boris Johnson’s plans to cut the London Fire Brigade budget by £45million over two years.

Ben Sprung, 35, an FBU regional official and firefighter at Kentish Town Fire Station, plans to lead a protest march through Belsize on May 25.

Speaking at last night’s meeting, he said: “If Belsize was to close, you’re looking at fire engines coming from Paddington, Willesden or Holloway – that is the difference between life and death.

“The key thing, whatever the incident, is the speed of the response – it’s about how quickly we get there.

“I remember in the last year my watch went to a car crash up by the park in Highgate Road. If we had arrived there 30 seconds later the man would have died because he had lost [the use of] his airway.”

The loss of the historic Belsize station, which opened in 1915, would leave just five fire engines in the borough.

The 28-strong team based at the Grade II-listed building is called to an average of 164 fires ever year and if the closure is approved, call-out times across Camden for the first fire engine on scene will increase by 45 seconds, according to London Fire Brigade (LFB) figures.

Alan Yarrow, 39, a firefighter at the Belsize station, joined speakers Mr Sprung, London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden Andrew Dismore and London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority member Darren Johnson at yesterday’s meeting.

He told audience members: “If you don’t walk out this room today and at least challenge the powers-that-be, then your protection will be severely diminished and others will be potentially hurt.”

The meeting was one of a series due to take place to coincide with a 12-week public consultation over the cuts, which will run until May 28.

For more information on the campaign and to sign a petition against the closure plans, visit www.saveourstations.org.uk.

Alternatively, contact Ben Sprung by e-mailing ben.sprung@fbu.org.uk

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