A woman owes to her life to firefighters from a station earmarked for closure by London’s mayor

Tim Lezard

The FBU has called on Boris Johnson to abandon plans to shut 12 fire stations after firefighters from one of those stations dramatically saved the life of a woman trapped in a fire with just seconds to spare.FBU logo

On Friday, two engines – one each from Plumstead and Woolwich fire stations – attended a fire in a flat on the Polthorne Estate. The engine from Plumstead was caught in heavy traffic, meaning that the engine from Woolwich station – which is earmarked for closure – arrived first on the scene.

Firefighters immediately entered the property in breathing apparatus and located an unconscious female casualty in a back bedroom. They pulled the casualty to safety before administering emergency first aid. A further five minutes passed before the engine from Plumstead arrived. Crews from East Greenwich and Erith fire stations also attended the incident.

The casualty was removed to hospital by the London Ambulance Service suffering from smoke inhalation.

As well as closing 12 stations, the mayor wants to remove 18 engines and slash 520 frontline firefighter posts.

FBU regional secretary Paul Embery said: “This incident illustrates why Boris Johnson’s plans are utterly reckless. The casualty was trapped in a serious fire and managed to maintain a phone dialogue with the brigade’s Control operator before being overcome and lapsing into unconsciousness.

“Crews from Woolwich performed magnificently, and their speed and professionalism saved the woman’s life with seconds to spare. I have absolutely no doubt that this woman would have died if Woolwich fire station had already closed.

“That’s why we are right to warn against the terrible consequences of shutting fire stations. These cuts will affect real Londoners in the most devastating way. In a service like ours, seconds really do count, as this incident proves. Closing 12 fire stations will be the difference between life and death for some people.

“We call upon the mayor to abandon his dangerous proposals. It is not too late to do the right thing.”


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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