Friday, January 17, 2014

Firefighters weep as fire stations close

LONDON firefighters embraced each other and wept last Thursday at 10 fire stations, including the oldest in Britain, closed for the last time due to cuts pushed through by London Mayor Boris Johnson to make £45 million worth of savings.
The closures went ahead in the face of active and bitter opposition from the elected fire authority, the Fire Brigades Union and local residents.
There are fears that the closures will endanger the public; along with the closure of the stations 552 firefighter jobs are being lost and 14 engines.
Clerkenwell station, which is 140 years old, closed after Green Watch attended their final call: a blaze at block of flats in Regents Park near King’s Cross station.
Firemen and women left, in civilian clothes, saying they had been told by their bosses they could not wear their uniforms.
Alex Baddock, who has worked at the station for 29 years cried as he left the building. “This is a sad, sad day. Boris Johnson doesn't know what he's doing,” he said.
Artemis Kassi, 42, a local mother who was there with her six-year-old daughter Maryam, has been campaigning to save the 107-year-old station.
She told the Evening Standard: “I am angry, appalled and, frankly, disgusted, that it has come to this. We are here to show our support, thanks and recognition to the firefighters who have served our community so well."
Paul Embery, London regional secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), said: “Boris Johnson will have blood on his hands. It will be only a matter of time before someone dies because a fire engine did not get to them in time.
"These stations have protected generations of Londoners, and they are as necessary now as they ever were."
Belsize, Bow, Downham, Kingsland, Knightsbridge, Silvertown, Southwark, and Woolwich stations also closed.

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