11 June 2013
The FBU tells Mayor to abandon cuts after firefighters from threatened station save man’s life with seconds to spare
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has called on the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to abandon plans to make deep cuts in the London Fire Brigade after another incident where crews from a station earmarked for closure carried out a dramatic rescue of a person trapped in a fire.
Firefighters from threatened Silvertown fire station were first on the scene after the brigade was called to a serious blaze in an industrial unit in Shirley Street, Canning Town at 2.53am this morning (6 June). The engine from Silvertown arrived at 2.58am, whereupon crews discovered a man trapped on the first floor. A firefighter provided the man with oxygen through a barred window while colleagues in breathing apparatus gained entry to the premises and rescued him.
The casualty was removed to hospital by the London Ambulance Service suffering from smoke inhalation.
So severe was the fire that a further seven engines were mobilised to attend, including one from Whitechapel fire station, which stands to lose an engine under the mayor’s cuts. It took nearly five hours to bring the blaze under control. Firefighters also isolated potentially explosive gas cylinders from a workshop in the building.
The mayor wants to close 12 fire stations, remove 18 engines and slash 520 frontline firefighter posts as part of the cuts package, even though his own fire authority voted against the plans. A public consultation ends on 17 June.
On 15 March, firefighters from another threatened station – Woolwich – rescued an unconscious woman from a fire in Polthorne Grove with seconds to spare. Back-up crews did not arrive until several minutes later, meaning that the woman would almost certainly have died had the cuts already taken effect.
The FBU’s regional secretary for London, Paul Embery, said: “We’ve said all along that these cuts will threaten lives, and this latest dramatic incident in Silvertown demonstrates why that is so. The casualty was in a desperate situation, and if the response time had been a few seconds longer he may not have survived. Silvertown crews were operating for some minutes before they received back-up, so we can reasonably assume that this casualty owes a lot – perhaps even his life – to Silvertown fire station.
“These cuts are dangerous and wrong. Last month, we saw the release of bombshell data which showed how response times for some Londoners will double after the cuts. In our service, seconds really do count, and those seconds can be the difference between life and death for people trapped in fires.
“We urge Mr Johnson to do the right thing and abandon plans that will unquestionably imperil the safety of Londoners.”
The FBU is calling on firefighters to join a protest against fire brigade cuts at the next session of Mayor’s Question Time, to take place at City Hall from 9.00am on 19 June.
CONTACT: PAUL EMBERY 07854 998508