FBU: Decommissioned engines might have saved man’s life
MAYOR of London Boris Johnson was urged yesterday to scrap his fire service cuts after a man was killed in a blaze while fire crews were occupied at another incident.
The London fire brigade took eight minutes and 56 seconds to reach a fire in Barnsbury, north London, early on Sunday, where 86-year-old Raymond Lister died at the scene.
It was almost three minutes behind the target time of six minutes and the second engine took almost eleven minutes to arrive, missing an eight-minute target.
The nearest fire station, at Clerkenwell, was closed by Mr Johnson in 2014. A year earlier, an engine at the nearby Holloway station was taken out of service to be used along with 12 others as a back-up during periods of strike action.
The 13 engines had been due to be returned to their stations last year, but Mr Johnson personally intervened to ensure this would not happen before budget cuts were agreed. Under plans to save £11.5 million, the engines are now being scrapped permanently.
The mayor overruled the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, which proposed an alternative savings plan, last week.
“An inquest must take place into the death of Mr Lister,” Fire Brigades Union London secretary Paul Embery demanded.
“However, we already know that the brigade has failed again to meet its target response time at a fatal fire.
“We also know that the borough where it happened has seen a 60 per cent cut in its fire cover in the last three years.
“It would therefore be incredibly reckless for Boris Johnson to continue with his planned cuts until all the lessons from this tragic incident have been learned.”
Speaking to local paper the Islington Tribune, which exposed the story earlier this week, a London Fire Brigade spokeswoman blamed the delay on “poorly parked cars and road width restrictions.”
But Mr Embery said that the three scrapped vehicles in the Islington borough, which now has just two engines, could have reached the blaze more quickly.
The tragedy follows a similar incident in October, when an elderly man jumped to his death from a burning sheltered housing block in nearby Camden Town. Fire crews were busy at attending to a fire several miles north.
In November 2015 the government was forced to admit that emergency response times were at their longest for 20 years.