3/8 Apollo Theatre fire crews were from stations dealt the final death knell
PUBLISHED: 19:08 20 December 2013 | UPDATED: 19:19 20 December 2013
Fire fighters from stations earmarked for closure have hit back at Boris Johnson for praising them one minute and yet “stabbing them in the back” the next.
Three of the eight fire crews which helped rescue injured theatre goers when a ceiling collapsed at the Apollo Theatre last night are from stations which face closure in the next few weeks – including Kingsland in Haggerston.
Southwark and Westminster which also attended the incident in Shaftesbury Avenue are among 10 fire stations in the capital which will be closed after a High Court judge ruled today that London Mayor Boris Johnson’s money-saving plan was not unlawful.
A section of ceiling at the theatre collapsed just after 8pm last night taking down parts of the balconies on top of the audience and fire fighters worked hard to make sure no one was trapped.
Out of the 720-strong audience, 58 were taken to hospital, and seven were seriously injured.
It was announced today that the station in Kingsland Road could close as early as next month after the town hall lost a High Court battle to save it.
Hackney Council, along with seven other authorities, were fighting London Mayor Boris Johnson’s proposals to close 10 fire stations in the capital.
But Mr Justice Foskett rejected the councils’ claim that the mayor’s plans were legally flawed for a number of reasons, including a failure to take into account the reality of increased fire risks in inner London.
Campaigners say the cuts, which involve the loss of more than 500 jobs and the axing of 14 engines, would be “reckless, wrong and will seriously endanger lives”.
Boris Johnson praised the Apollo firefighters today, saying: “The emergency response, in particularly confused and trying circumstances, was rapid and the co-ordination between the Metropolitan Police, the London Ambulance Service and the London Fire Brigade was exemplary.”
However the Fire Brigades Union General Secretary, Matt Wrack hit back. He said: “Firefighters at the Apollo Theatre were fantastic in their response to an incident that could have seen significant loss of life, but we’re sick of being praised by politicians one minutes and stabbed in the back the next.”
He continued: “Our world-class fire and rescue service is being devastated by the worst cuts in our history, cuts that prevent firefighters from doing their jobs during day-to-day emergencies, major incidents like the Apollo Theatre or Clutha Bar collapses and recent floods and storms.”
Kingsland station manager Nick Harding who was at the Apollo last night said he had never seen an incident like it in all his time as a fire officer.
“I imagine lots of people were out enjoying the show in the run-up to Christmas, my thoughts go out to all those affected,” he said.
The application for judicial review was brought by the borough councils of Islington, Camden, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Lewisham and Greenwich.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Hackney Gazette. Click the link in the orange box above for details.