Kensington firefighter urges people to fight potential fire service cuts


A leaked list which showed the names of 17 London fire stations, believed to be stations slated for closure, provoked anger from firefighters.


By Zachary Norman

A Kensington firefighter is urging people to speak up about potential cuts to the fire service.

Yusuf Timms, currently stationed at Kensington fire station, has been a firefighter in the borough for over five years and is Fire Brigades Union Secretary for south-west London.

He is reacting to a leaked list which showed the names of 17 London fire stations, believed to be stations slated for closure, that has provoked anger from firefighters.

Mr Timms said: “We’re hopeful in as many areas as possible that people will have something to say about it.”

Around 1,500 frontline firefighter jobs were lost nationally between 2011 and 2012 and Mr Timms is worried this trend will continue.

Kensington, Knightsbridge and Westminster stations were all on the list and up to 600 jobs could go London-wide in an attempt to save £65million.

Mr Timms said: “More cuts will mean slower response times to emergencies, putting life and property at greater risk.”

“Once these jobs are gone they’re never coming back,” he added.

“We’re down the road and we’re there if you need us, people like that.”

Mr Timms said he and colleagues do their job because they want to feel like they’re making a contribution to the community – they want to be able to go out and keep people safe.

He stressed that with fewer fire engines in London it would be much harder to respond to incidents with the appropriate weight needed to help.

Felicity Quick, 26, lives in a Fulham flat where, just over a month ago, a fire started in the opposite flat.

She said keeping current response times would be impossible if people kept building more housing.

She said: “Smoke damage and sooty walls could easily have been burnt out rooms and ruined possessions.”

Councillor Robert Atkinson said: “Unless they’re going to have jet-powered fire fighting equipment it’s just not possible.”

Councillor Pat Mason said closing Knightsbridge and Kensington Fire Stations would leave two of the borough’s busiest shopping areas without adequate cover, putting residents and visitors lives at risk.

He added: “Trading lives to make unacceptable cuts to such a vital service is criminal.”
A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said like every other public service the Brigade is facing the need to make savings.

The spokesperson added that the Brigade expects to be able to maintain current target response times and as yet no decision about any closures has been taken.

There will be a full public consultation prior to a decision, which is due in December.

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