London Mums, Its Time to Act – They are Selling Your Family’s Fire Station
I got an email today from the lovely Artemis Kassi, our tenacious heroine of London Fire stations. Ms. Kassi and tens of thousands of London residents have protested the closing of neighbourhood fire stations and reducing the staff, especially as London is adding so many buildings (around Nine Elms in particular) on the grounds that fires just don’t happen that often. In fact, they are up 45% in 2012.
The land that housed the London fire stations will be sold to developers for millions of pounds with no accounting of where the money will go. Your insurance premiums will increase and the response time for house fires will increase. The City of London is counting on our apathy, our lack of engagement and they will pull the fire stations out from under us and they will never come back.
If you have not already, please sign this additional petition: http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-our-firestations
Please, try and attend the Mayor at People’s Question Time on 5 November. Tickets are free but must be booked: http://www.london.gov.uk/get-involved/events/people-s-question-time-kensington-and-chelsea
Read on, from Ms. Kassi’s email:
These closures, part of a bigger picture of privatisation of the fire service, are due to occur on 9 January 2014 and are allegedly about austerity. The Mayor wants to save £28.8 million this year by cutting ten London fire stations, in densely populated areas, making 552 fire fighters redundant and decommissioning 18 engines. Yet your money is being spent elsewhere to subsidise non-essentials (e.g. £11 million in subsidy to the Barclays Bike scheme and £6 million a year to the Cable Car). A busy station like Westminster Fire Station costs £1.4 million per year to run.
The Mayor says that incidence of fires is down. That is true of certain types of fire, such as car fires and bin fires. That is NOT true of dwelling fires, which increased by 45% in 2012. The number of fire rescues carried out by firefighters is not down. The fires that do occur usually require three or more fire engines. If these closures go ahead, there will be fewer resources and decreased manpower to deal with fires that will have more time to develop as the fire engines have to travel from longer distances to respond. Every ward in London will see increased response times, many of these outside the target time of 6 minutes. For example, parts of Primrose Hill will have an initial response time of 12 minutes. The human brain can only survive upto four minutes of smoke inhalation. In a fire, every second counts.
But fire fighters do not “simply” respond to fires. The London Fire Brigade is a rescue emergency service and also deals with chemical spillage, flooding, road traffic accidents, helicopter accidents, terrorist attack and fire. The firefighters have local knowledge and work hard on prevention of fires, carrying out domestic risk assessments and fitting fire alarms for free as well as having an education programme (in primary and secondary schools as well as universities).
These fire stations will be sold and turned into luxury accommodation. The profits from the sales of Belsize, Bow, Clerkenwell, Downham, Kingsland, Knightsbridge, Silvertown, Southwark, Westminster and Woolwich will not even be spent on improving the London Fire Brigade. To give you an idea of the profits we are talking about, Southwark Fire Station is conservatively estimated to have a monetary value of £9 million. Like the other nine stations due to close on 9 January, it will be impossible to replace. And our insurance premiums will increase as our lives and properties are subjected to increased risks.
You can discuss all this with the Mayor at People’s Question Time on 5 November. Tickets are free but must be booked: http://www.london.gov.uk/get-involved/events/people-s-question-time-kensington-and-chelsea
A reminder that there will be a meeting in the ULU Building in Malet Street at 615pm on Tuesday 29 October. Please do come – we have much to do and achieve in a short amount of time. For example, discussing People’s Question Time and also more Red Balloon Events! Here in case you missed the last one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRVLrA2PGTATweet