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Stop Boris Fighting Fire With Cuts

Posted: 28/10/2013 17:46

Have you heard? Boris Johnson is buying London several hundred £700 battery-powered bicycles out of his impressive £913million cycling fund.

People who live in the hilliest part of London rejoice - you could soon have some motorised help to cycle up those hills, if a trial in Muswell Hill is deemed successful. Never mind if you don't want to or simply can't cycle, it's a great use of money, isn't it?

Meanwhile, Boris is axing 10 fire stations, 14 engines and 550 London Fire Brigade jobs, reportedly saving us £28.8m over two years.

I'm not sure our crowd-pleasing Mayor has got his priorities right.

The problem is fires aren't really something you worry about until you've seen one rip through a room in your home. Whereas a pleasant journey to work is something Londoners struggle for every day.

Admittedly the only reason I'm now worried about the LFB cuts is because I've just witnessed first-hand the absolutely necessary work the often life-saving service carries out.

Last Friday morning, in the 10 minutes it took for me to get out of the shower, get dressed and head to the kitchen to make breakfast, my bathroom had been engulfed in flames.

I was in a rush to leave the house and get to work. If I'd been quicker, I might not have been there when all the lights switched off in the flat.

I went to look at our fuse box and it was then I spotted a huge plume of black smoke escaping from the bathroom.

Opening the door I was confronted by a full-on blaze in my bathroom. I pulled the door shut and ran back to wake those sleeping in my flat, banging on the doors and shouting: "There's a fire in the bathroom!"

No smoke alarms went off (our landlord only deemed necessary one communal alarm in the hallway of the building).

I shouted at my flatmate to call 999, while her Australian boyfriend grabbed a wet pink towel and opened the bathroom door. He soon changed his mind.

You see, fires are something that must be left to the professionals and within five minutes they were with us. Thank God.

Two fire engines pulled up outside the building and the calm firefighters went straight in to tackle the flames. I'd never felt so relieved to see a man in uniform.

Without having a fire brigade that could reach our house in the space of a TV ad break, this story could have had a completely different ending. For starters, my bedroom which is next to our bathroom and contains a life's worth of uninsured possessions may not have still been intact.

When it comes to tackling fires, speed is so paramount. The cheap doors in our flat would hold back a fire "for roughly 20 minutes", a fireman told me as we stood outside and awaited news of what state our home was in.

Boris's planned cuts mean some Londoners will end up far less fortunate than me...

The fireman said they could have been with us even quicker if it weren't for traffic and people refusing to move out the way.

It's shocking that drivers wouldn't pull over for a fire engine but it's even more worrying that the people of Woolwich, Kingsland, Bow, Downham, Knightsbridge, Silverton, Southwark, Westminster, Clerkenwell and Belsize are set to lose their local fire stations, meaning engines will have to travel further across London - through the same heavy traffic that impeded ours - to get to them.

Boris may have called accusations that he is putting lives at risk "bollocks" during one of his revealing moments at City Hall last month. But the London Fire Brigade Union says the most serious cuts ever made in the history of the LFB will, according to the commissioner's own predictions, mean 4.7million Londoners will be waiting longer for a fire engine.

Call me simplistic, but I'd rather have firefighters waiting at the ready and with me in minutes than be able to cycle around London any day.

Agree? You can sign the petition to demand that the government holds true to its election pledge that no front-line services will be cut and halt the closure of London Fire Stations and job cuts within the LFB, here.
 

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