Socialist Worker

Protests mark closure of ten London fire stations

Issue No. 2385

Firefighters at Southwark station

Firefighters at Southwark station (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Firefighters, trade unionists, campaigners and residents gathered outside London fire stations this morning, Thursday, to mark their closure.

Tory London mayor Boris Johnson closed ten fire stations in the capital today.

Andy Snazell is Borough Commander in charge of fire stations in Southwark, south London. "It's a sad day," he told Socialist Worker outside Southwark fire station. "This station has been here for 135 years.

"All London firefighters start here to do their training. Now the fire station's closing and the training centre is earmarked for closure too."

Graham Beers is an FBU union rep at the station and part of Red Watch. He told Socialist Worker, "Our watch was the first to finish our tour of duty on Monday evening. 

"I'm sad to leave such a good station. It's like losing one of your family."

The stations closing are Belsize in Camden, Bow in Tower Hamlets, Clerkenwell in Islington, Downham in Lewisham, Kingsland in Hackney, Knightsbridge in Kensington and Chelsea, Silvertown in Newham, Southwark, Westminster and Woolwich.

Firefighters and others stressed that response times for fires and other incidents in the borough would now increase - putting lives at risk.

Advice

"Seconds count," said Graham. "And we get a lot of people coming here for advice about smoke alarms and problems with safety in flats. They have nowhere to go now."

At Bow fire station around 20 supporters gathered outside to protest against the closure.

Sanu, a Tower Hamlets resident told Socialist Worker, “The station shouldn’t be going. There's heavy traffic this morning - with this station gone response time are going to be even higher in traffic like this."

At Kingsland Road fire station in Hackney Matt Wrack emotionally addressed firefighters and supporters saying the cuts were "disgusting".

In Southwark supporters applauded firefighters on Green Watch as they finished their final shift at 9.30am. Cars and buses tooted their horns in support as they passed the station.

Tom Flynn is Labour council candidate for nearby Camberwell Green. "I genuinely don't think I've been involved in a more popular campaign," he said.

Pat Notton is a pensioner living close to the station. She told Socialist Worker, "I'd like to get Boris Johnson in a room over this - and I think a lot of people would. We've got to keep fighting."

One woman firefighter from another London station came to Southwark to show solidarity. "It's been really sad for all of us," she told Socialist Worker.

"The closures are just paving the way for more cuts. 

"It's not just the fire service - everyone's taking a hit. But that doesn't mean we have to swallow it. You have to stand up for what you believe in."


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Thu 9 Jan 2014, 13:16 GMT
Issue No. 2385
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