Green Party and Lib Dems fight Kingston fire engine move despite borough commander reassurances

Sarah Olney and Andrée Frieze are once again united as they fight to prevent the move of a fire engine from Kingston station to New Malden.

Both the Lib Dem Richmond Park MP and the Green Party activist believe removing an engine from Kingston Fire Station is a cause of concern for Ham, Petersham and North Kingston residents.

The London Fire Brigade has proposed the move to improve response times across the whole borough.

Kingston upon Thames borough commander Peter Rickard said: “It is fair to say that there are some wards within the borough that will have longer response times.

“However, this new scheme will see improved response times for first and second engines for the entirety of the borough.

“The moving of the Kingston fire engine to New Malden would bring Kingston borough within the second fire engine average target of eight minutes.”

The move comes as part of the London Fire Brigade’s proposed Safety Plan – an initiative aimed at protecting and preparing Londoners in the case of a fire emergency.

The New Malden station currently requires another engine so it can meet the LFB’s target of second engines arriving within eight minutes of an emergency call.

This is the only change in the entirety of London that would have such a beneficial impact on attendance standards.

Richmond Park and North Kingston MP Ms Olney assured her constituency all possible scenarios will be considered before the proposal goes through.

“The proposal to move a fire engine is, understandably, a cause for concern for residents in Ham and Petersham,” she said.

“I am working with local people, local Lib Dem councillor Penny Frost, and the Fire Brigades Union to make sure that all the alternatives are considered as part of the Fire Brigade’s London Safety Plan.”

Ms Frieze, a Green Party activist in Ham, was less reserved in her criticism of the move.

She said: “The proposed removal of the second engine from Kingston Fire Station on Richmond Road is extremely worrying for the residents of Ham, Petersham and North Kingston.

“There are at least 14 schools that will be directly affected by taking away the second engine, putting children’s lives at risk.

“There are also a number of high-density buildings and the River Thames, where any delay in fire engines attending could be catastrophic.

“Historic Ham House and the residents of its top-floor flats could also be at risk.”

Despite the concerns, Mr Rickard is confident in the long-term benefits of the move should it be implemented.

He said: “I truly believe in this, I think the importance of teaching about fire prevention will really benefit the community.”

Featured image courtesy of Tom Page, with thanks

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