Outrage as Islington set to lose a fire engine
�As firefighters gear up for bonfire night – their busiest time of the year – fury has erupted over the news that the borough is about to lose one of its fire engines.
The Fire Brigades Union is urging a rethink on plans to strip Islington fire station, in Upper Street, of one of its two fire engines along with 20 of its 60 firefighters early next year.
It will leave the borough with four engines, approximately one for every 50,000 residents, which objectors say will leave the public at risk.
The move is part of a plan agreed back in 2005, which also saw Clerkenwell station lose a vehicle, to shift engines from inner boroughs to outer. Islington’s engine will be sent east to Walthamstow.
An Islington fireman, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Islington is one of the most densely populated parts of London. Is four engines really enough cover?
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“It’s common sense that people will be put at risk with less cover. It means extra time for us to get to fires and one team having to cope on their own for longer during serious incidents.”
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A spokesman for the London branch of the Fire Brigades Union said: “We opposed this back in 2005 an we haven’t changed our position – even at this late stage we would ask them to reconsider.
“There are a number of serious risks in Islington – including Arsenal football club – and it is very worrying to cut the fire cover by a third in such a densely populated borough.
“It is not as if the population has gone down and we have serious misgivings about stripping the service to this degree.”
There were 386 serious fires in Islington last year, and three fire-related deaths.
A spokesman for London Fire Brigade said: “In order to improve overall response times across the capital a decision was taken by London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority in March 2005 to move 10 fire engines to fire stations based in those areas of the capital most at risk from fire.
“These moves mean that more people in London will get a second fire engine to their home or workplace faster than before.“
? Last year, although November 5 fell on a Friday, Islington reported no bonfire related incidents, possibly due to threatened strike action at the time. The previous time the day fell on a weekend, in 2006, there were 16 firework night related fires in the borough.