Fury at bid to axe 13 fire engines after huge Finchley Road blaze in Camden
West Hampstead and Hornsey fire stations could both lose an engine under controversial cost-cutting proposals
Firefighters and local MPs have reacted furiously to plans that threaten to permanently axe fire engines in West Hampstead and Hornsey to wipe £11million from next year’s budget.
One engine at both stations is at risk under London Fire Brigade proposals to scrap 13 of the capital’s fire engines, the Ham&High can reveal.
Under the plans, fire response times in Camden and Haringey would increase, according to the brigade’s own figures.
It comes just weeks after a huge fire burned for more than 72 hours in Finchley Road, devastating homes and livelihoods. As crews from across north London were diverted to the blaze, a man lost his life in another fatal house fire in Camden Town.
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Tulip Siddiq, Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, said: “It is infuriating that the Mayor would consider permanently decommissioning these fire engines.
“We depend on our fire services to respond in the fastest possible times and I strongly oppose any moves that will lead to delays in response times. I call on the mayor to stop risking neighbourhood safety in his pursuit of further cuts to our emergency services.”
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Catherine West, Labour MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, said: “With a growing population, Hornsey needs emergency services. I will fight any reduction to fire safety in Hornsey.”
In August 2013, 13 engines were taken out of service for use during strike action.
In June this year, Mayor of London Boris Johnson delayed redeployment of the engines while plans to permanently axe them were considered to balance next year’s budget.
This week the head of the brigade recommended they should be scrapped.
The brigade says “targets can continue to be comfortably met at a London level” without the engines.
One option is to stand down the pumps already out of use.
But an alternative would see the brigade pick 13 engines from across London fire stations to stand down. Under this scenario West Hampstead and Hornsey will lose out.
London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson has recommended the 13 pumps already out of use are stood down saying there is “minimal difference between the two options”.
But members of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority will take the final decision on how to move forward with the cost cutting measures.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has condemned the proposals.
London FBU regional secretary Paul Embery said: “When you’re trapped in a fire, seconds count. If you have to wait for a fire engine to arrive from further afield that extra wait could be the difference between life and death.”
Fire commissioner Mr Dobson said: “My priority when exploring how we can make these savings is to ensure we don’t compromise our service to Londoners.”
Belsize fire station was one of 10 in London closed last year despite massive community opposition.
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