Hackney may lose fire engine in plan to slash £11million

Shoreditch's only remaining fire engine attending a large blaze in Tottenham, which would have left

Shoreditch's only remaining fire engine attending a large blaze in Tottenham, which would have left Shoreditch fire station empty for several hours - Credit: Paul Wood, no byline, fees payable

Fire response times will increase under proposal to axe 13 engines

Meg Hillier outside Kingsland Fire Station

Meg Hillier outside Kingsland Fire Station - Credit: Archant

Shoreditch is at risk of permanently losing one of its fire engines under controversial plans to fill an £11million black hole in the brigade’s budget.

The proposal by the London Fire Brigade (LFB) would see 13 of the capital’s engines permanently axed including one from Shoreditch, the Gazette can reveal.

Fire response times in Hackney would rise, according to the brigade’s own figures. It will take five seconds longer on average for a first engine to reach a blaze 20 seconds longer for a second engine to reach more serious fires.

“I would say that any increase in response times would jeopardise public safety,” said London Fire Brigades Union (FBU) regional secretary, Paul Embery.

“When you’re trapped in a fire, seconds count. And if you have to wait for a fire engine to arrive from further afield because your local engine has been taken out of service, that extra wait could be the difference between life and death.”

This weekend Shoreditch’s only engine was called to a large fire in Tottenham, leaving Shoreditch fire station empty for several hours.

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The cuts plan comes after 13 engines, including Shoreditch’s, were temporarily taken out of service in August 2013 for use in the event of strike action by firefighters.

In June, just days before the engines were due to be returned to stations, Mayor of London Boris Johnson ordered they be left unused while plans to scrap them were considered.

The Gazette can reveal the head of the brigade this week recommended all 13 should be axed to cover an £11million black hole in the force’s budget for 2016-17.

The brigade says “targets can continue to be comfortably met at a London level” without the engines.

Two proposals are now on the table, both would see Shoreditch’s fire engine permanently scrapped.

It comes after Kingsland was one of 10 fire stations shut down in London last January in cost-cutting plans, despite massive community opposition.

Meg Hillier, Labour MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, criticised the proposal saying: “It doesn’t show any rhyme or reason.

“One moment they close Kingsland fire station and the next they’re removing an engine that’s supposed to cover a station that’s been closed. I’ll certainly be raising this with the fire commissioner.

“I’m worried about safety, because we’ve already got a problem in De Beauvoir with response times and now another appliance is being taken away.

“If there’s a big fire, how will they get there? I’m concerned that a fire could go beyond flash point before a second appliance would arrive, especially in areas which the Kingsland fire station used to cover.”

A final decision on the plan is unlikely to be made until after the London mayoral elections in May 2016.