Concerns raised over shortlisting of Clapham fire station for closure
5:00am Wednesday 24th October 2012 in News
A proposal to close Clapham fire station has been condemned by Streatham councillors who fear it will put lives at risk.
The station, which covers part of Streatham is one of 17 across the capital earmarked for possible closure in a document leaked to BBC London News.
The proposals, which would also see the loss of 600 jobs, look set to be put before a meeting of the London Fire Authority on November 22 as the Mayor of London seeks to save £65m over the next two years.
Fires in Streatham are normally covered by fire stations in Clapham, West Norwood, Brixton and Tooting, and it is feared that removing one will lead to slower response times and could lead to overstretch at peak times.
The Fire Brigade Union’s regional secretary for London, Paul Embery, said: "These proposals present the biggest threat to the London Fire Brigade since the days of the Luftwaffe and would lead to the decimation of fire cover in London.
"The brigade will argue that attendance times will not be affected by these cuts.
"Aside from the fact that is a very bold and risky claim to make, anyone who knows anything about firefighting knows that it isn’t just about the speed of response; the weight of response - ensuring that you have adequate resources to deal with developing incidents - is just as crucial.
"All around the country, chief fire officers are beginning to warn publicly of the danger of catastrophic cuts. So far, the commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, Ron Dobson, has remained silent, but surely now it is time for him speak up."
Lambeth and Southwark Assembly Member Val Shawcross, who chaired the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority from 2000 and 2008, said: "I would be very worried about the fire-fighters not getting to the fire quickly enough to make a difference or get it under control.
"If you stop doing effective prevention work fires will go up again."
Councillor Mark Bennett, who represents Streatham South ward, said he was massively concerned that the network of fire station covering London could be broken.
Coun Bennett said: "It will affect the ability of other fire stations to respond to fires.
"We saw last year large parts of South London in flames after the riots. If Clapham was not in the equation we would have seen much more damage."
Councillor Judy Best, who represents Streatham Wells ward, said she opposed any cuts to fire services.
Ms Best said: "I don’t want any stations to close. It’s risking people’s lives as far as I’m concerned."
Councillor John Whelan, who represents Thurlow Park ward, said that West Norwood had its own fire station that is being rebuilt.
Coun Whelan said: "That is not being affected by this."
He said no decision had been made over Clapham fire station, adding: "There is a potential danger it could close."
A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: "Like virtually every other public service, the Brigade is facing the need to make savings.
"There is a target for these savings but the full details will not be known until at least December, when the Government announces its grant to the Brigade.
"We expect to be able to maintain our current target response times.
"No decisions about any possible fire station closures have yet been taken.
"Before they are, there will be a full public consultation."