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Campaign to save Europe’s oldest fire station in Clerkenwell launched

PUBLISHED: 15:07 02 November 2012

Clerkenwell fire station

Clerkenwell fire station

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Firefighters have begun a campaign to save the capital’s oldest fire station.

Clerkenwell station is on a leaked list of 17 considered for closure along with Islington, while Holloway is the only one of the borough’s three not under threat.

Grade II listed Clerkenwell, in Rosebery Avenue, was built in 1872 and is thought to be Europe’s oldest fire station still in use.

Its firefighters have taken to social media to campaign against the possible closure being considered by the London Fire Brigade (LFB) as it looks to save £65million over two years at the behest of Mayor Boris Johnson.

Greg Edwards, a Fire Brigades Union (FBU) official and firefighter at Clerkenwell, says fire chiefs are using “paper targets” for attendance times to justify putting residents at risk.

He said: “If we lose the station, it could have an effect on people’s lives. As firefighters, we realise the difference any length of time can make in resolving incidents safely. If your house is on fire and you’re trapped, and the seconds are turning into minutes, you want someone there as quickly as possible. It’s got to put people at greater risk if it takes longer.

“But the argument seems to be that we can still meet a paper target of arriving within six minutes without Clerkenwell and Islington. We’re wary of that – although we may meet that target, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

“We usually reach fires in under five minutes, and we’re worried that will be used to justify closure.”

The nearest fire stations to Clerkenwell – Euston, Shoreditch and Soho – are all more than a mile away.

Mr Edwards and colleagues have launched the @saveclerkenwell account on social network Twitter, with more than 100 followers, and an online petition signed by nearly 200.

He added: “There’s disbelief at the station that they could even be considering this. Clerkenwell is the oldest station in Europe and there’s a reason it’s been around for that long – it’s strategically placed and it’s needed there.”

In the 12 months to October, there were 3,366 incidents in Islington as a whole, the LFB says. That amounts to nearly 10 per day.

An LFB spokesman said the closure of 17 stations was just one cost-cutting option “among many”, adding: “No decision has been taken and there will be a full consultation if and when any stations are put forward for closure in order to make savings.”


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