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10 London Fire Stations Formally Closing, 500 Firefighter Positions Eliminated

Twitter photo via London Fire Brigade Union:  "Less than 12 hours to go 'til Westminster fire station, protecting the good people of that borough since 1906, closes."
Twitter photo via London Fire Brigade Union: “Less than 12 hours to go ’til Westminster fire station, protecting the good people of that borough since 1906, closes.”

Ten London firehouses are closing their doors for good Thursday, part of a long-planned organizational shift that will also reduce the overall firefighting workforce in the city by over 500 — through retirement or attrition.

In addition to the ten stations that will close, second engines will be removed from seven fire stations — and five stations will receive an additional second engine, according to the press release. You can also download the entire reorg plan at that link. Additionally, fire rescue units (specialized rescue) will be reduced from 16 to 14 units and their staffing reduced from five to four firefighters

The London Fire Brigade Union’s @LondonFBU Twitter account has been sending out photos of each of the 10 closing stations all day Wednesday.

A note on one of the closing fire stations, submitted via Facebook.
A note on one of the closing fire stations, submitted via Facebook.

The last appeal in late December with the High Court failed to stop the closures, the BBC reported.

The move also saves nearly $30M Euro annually.

In a press release Tuesday, the London Fire Bridage itself says safety will not be comprised.

With ten London fire stations set to close this Thursday, 9 January, the Chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), James Cleverly, said today that Londoners will continue to be safe and receive the fastest emergency response in the capital, if not the UK.

The ten stations will be closed as part of the Fifth London Safety Plan (LSP), which sets out how the Brigade plans to keep Londoners safe over the next three years. 102 fire stations will continue to operate as normal providing London’s fire and rescue service. The Brigade needs to meet budget savings of £45 million over the next two years and the Plan will help it to meet £29 million of these savings.

The Brigade said that the changes will be made, whilst it continues to maintain existing response time targets of getting the first fire engine to an incident in six minutes, on average across London, and the second, if needed, in eight minutes.

As well as the closure of ten fire stations, the LSP includes plans to reduce fires amongst vulnerable groups, such as those living in sheltered housing; to lobby for sprinklers, particularly in the homes of those known to be most at risk from fire; to introduce cost recovery charges for repeat false fire alarm call outs and to continue to carry out thousands of home fire safety visits each year.

LFEPA Chairman, James Cleverly, said:

“Londoners will continue to receive one of the fastest emergency response times in the world from the London Fire Brigade. If you dial 999 and need a fire engine, we still aim to have one with you within six minutes and a second, if needed, within eight.

“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. The firefighters based at the stations closing will now transfer to other stations and continue the excellent work they do to prevent fires, which is vital in changing the behaviours that start fires in the first place.”

The Brigade’s figures show that the number of fires in London has fallen by fifty per cent in the last ten years, and latest figures show that they continued to fall at the same rate last year.

The ten fire stations are set to close at the end of the night shift (9.30am) on Thursday.

Facebook pages and other campaigns to save the stations have seemingly come up short, including this Save Westminster Fire Station page.

Watch as London Mayor Boris defends the closures on a local radio station yesterday.

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