Residents lives will be put at risk if Belsize fire station closes, claims union
Camden firefighters claim they could be stretched to breaking point and residents’ lives put at risk if Belsize fire station is shut down.
The station in Lancaster Grove is one of 17 in the capital earmarked for closure under London Fire Brigade’s (LFB) �65million cuts, according to a leaked fire authority document.
The station was opened in 1915 and is home to 28 firefighters and has one of the borough’s six engines. The team is called to an average of 164 fires every year.
Kentish Town firefighter Ben Sprung, regional official for the Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU), said Camden firefighters would be at the mercy of the availability of engines in neighbouring Islington and Brent.
“It will take longer for us to get an adequate number of engines to the fire which doubles in size every four minutes,” he said.
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“London Mayor Boris Johnson thinks that he can have a fire service based on economic provision, but it has always been about risk and remains to be so.”
Kieron Cashin, FBU representative for Belsize, is gathering signatures for a petition to save the station, which is also used for training.
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“I think people will be put at massive risk if these plans are allowed to go ahead,” he said. “It’s quite short-sighted.”
Kentish Town, West Hampstead and Euston stations are not at risk of closure but are not named as “safe stations” in the list.
An LFB spokeswoman said: “Like virtually every other public service, the brigade is facing the need to make savings. There is a target for these savings but the full details will not be known until at least December, when the government announces its grant to the brigade.
“We expect to be able to maintain our current target response times. No decisions about any possible fire station closures have yet been taken. Before they are, there will be a full public consultation.”
Andrew Dismore, London Assembly member for Camden and Barnet and a member of the London fire and emergency planning authority, said: “Camden has the second best attendance times for the fire brigade in London.
“I do not believe that this can be maintained if Belsize fire station closes, so I do not support the closure of Belsize fire station. While savings have to be made, these should not be at the expense of the front line of fire cover.”
Belsize Cllr Tom Simon said: “Even though it’s a small fire station, residents will be concerned.”
Averil Nottage, of Belsize Residents’ Association, said: “We are very concerned that any changes do not put people at risk.”