Brigade fails to meet fire target times in three Hackney wards following station closures
PUBLISHED: 16:26 24 November 2014 | UPDATED: 17:06 24 November 2014
Fire brigade response times have increased in 370 London wards since Boris Johnson's decision to close fire stations, despite his assurance that there would be no increased threat to public safety.
Figures provided to London Assembly Members show the average times it takes engines to reach fires has gone up in 13 out of 19 Hackney wards and 10 out of 16 Islington wards since the Mayor forced through the closure of 10 London fire stations in January.
Worryingly, in De Beauvoir, Queensbridge and Springfield in Hackney – near to the closed Kingsland fire station - victims of fire have had to wait on average more than the six-minute target time before help arrives.
The London Fire Brigade (LFB) aims to get a first fire engine to an incident in six minutes and a second in eight minutes.
De Beauvoir had the highest increase in waiting times of 1 minute 56 seconds, while Clerkenwell - where the fire station was closed - had the highest increase in Islington of 1 minute 29 seconds to 5 minutes 28 seconds.
London Assembly Labour group fire spokeswoman, Fiona Twycross AM, said: “Fires can take hold in seconds, that’s why any increase in response times can be so dangerous.
“Londoners will be deeply concerned that since the closures it could take significantly longer for a fire engine to reach their home.”
London Assembly Member Jennette Arnold OBE said the number of areas where response times have increased shows that despite assurances from the London Mayor, his cuts to the fire service have increased the threat to public safety.
She said: “The fire service is doing the best it can with the resources it has at its disposal, but they can only go so far now that the Mayor has pushed through his closures of fire stations and the removal of fire engines.
“It’s not as though we didn’t warn him about this, and it angers me that the Mayor’s stubbornness and policies based on money, rather than people, is compromising the safety of our city.”
Average response times for London have increased from 5:18 to 5:30 for the first fire engine response, with the second response time also increasing from 6:28 to 6:51.
A spokesman for the Mayor of London said: “Londoners deserve the most efficient and effective fire service.
“We have some of the best response times in the UK and the risk of fire in homes and businesses is now lower than ever before thanks to the excellent prevention work undertaken by London’s fire service.
“We are working hard to ensure that everyone gets the response they need from our fire service, in spite of the fact that 13 appliances are being held in reserve should threatened strike action go ahead, and we will continue to look for new ways to improve the service.”
A London Fire Brigade spokesman said: “Between January and August, London-wide attendance times are on target and London Fire Brigade continues to provide the fastest emergency service response in the capital.”