Longer response time prevented pensioner’s rescue, says FBU
A PENSIONER killed in a London blaze could have been saved if Tory Mayor Boris Johnson had not shut a nearby fire station, firefighters said yesterday.
Fire crews took 13 minutes — more than double the six-minute response time target — to reach the scene after a blaze broke out at sheltered accommodation in Camden Road on Monday.
Firefighters from the nearest station to the incident, Kentish Town, were unavailable as they were already tackling a large fire at a fast-food restaurant in Finchley Road.
This led to crews coming from as far away as Soho, Shoreditch, Lambeth and Stanmore.
But the elderly man had already either jumped or fallen to his death by the time fire engines arrived from Soho.
FBU London regional secretary Paul Embery said the man’s life could have been saved if longstanding Belsize fire station were still open.
The station was one of 10 in the capital closed by the mayor last year.
Mr Embery said: “Boris Johnson has got serious questions to answer after this tragedy.
“Last year, he forced through massive cuts in the London Fire Brigade and we warned him that it would lead to longer response times and jeopardise public safety.
“It is not nice to be proved right. His cuts meant that the brigade’s response to this incident was severely delayed.”
He told the Star that “closing fire stations and slashing firefighter jobs costs lives” and that “many more lives are at risk, not just in London but across the country.”
Mr Embery highlighted that last year alone 600 front-line jobs were slashed.
“It is scandalous that the safety of Londoners is being sacrificed because of the mayor’s fixation with cost-cutting,” he said.
The mayor of London’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
London Labour Assembly member for Barnet & Camden Andrew Dismore said: “Yet again we have seen how wrong it was to close Belsize fire station.
“This is the second time this year we have seen how stretched the fire brigade is in answering emergencies in Camden when there is more than one incident at a time.
“This brings home how the Conservative mayor and government’s demands for yet more cuts can put lives at risk.”