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'O' My God - Fire Brigade to Rescue as Stations Close on Thursday

08 January 2014 | Updated 01 January 1970

Firefighters came to the rescue of a giant 'O' on top of the Odeon cinema in Leicester Square yesterday afternoon. The five by four foot sign was left in a precarious position by high winds and crews were called to make the area safe. Firefighters with specialist rope rescue training abseiled down the tower and safely removed the 'O'. No one was hurt.

Station Manager Tim Kyte, from Soho fire station, who was at the scene, said: "Crews managed to bring the 'O' safely to ground level after an impressive spot of abseiling. We worked closely with staff at the cinema to bring the incident to a swift and safe conclusion."

A fire engine from Soho fire station went to the scene with fire rescue units from Clerkenwell and Paddington fire stations. The Brigade was called at 1022 and the sign was declared safe at 1253.


Closures strike tomorrow

With ten London fire stations set to close this Thursday, 9 January, the Chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), James Cleverly, said today that Londoners will continue to be safe and receive the fastest emergency response in the capital, if not the UK.

The ten stations will be closed as part of the Fifth London Safety Plan (LSP), which sets out how the Brigade plans to keep Londoners safe over the next three years. 102 fire stations will continue to operate as normal providing London’s fire and rescue service. The Brigade needs to meet budget savings of £45 million over the next two years and the Plan will help it to meet £29 million of these savings.

The Brigade said that the changes will be made, whilst it continues to maintain existing response time targets of getting the first fire engine to an incident in six minutes, on average across London, and the second, if needed, in eight minutes.

As well as the closure of ten fire stations, the LSP includes plans to reduce fires amongst vulnerable groups, such as those living in sheltered housing; to lobby for sprinklers, particularly in the homes of those known to be most at risk from fire; to introduce cost recovery charges for repeat false fire alarm call outs and to continue to carry out thousands of home fire safety visits each year.

LFEPA Chairman, James Cleverly, said: “Londoners will continue to receive one of the fastest emergency response times in the world from the London Fire Brigade. If you dial 999 and need a fire engine, we still aim to have one with you within six minutes and a second, if needed, within eight.

“The Brigade is faced with significant budget cuts which mean that changes to the service are inevitable and we are able to make those changes without compulsory redundancies. The firefighters based at the stations closing will now transfer to other stations and continue the excellent work they do to prevent fires, which is vital in changing the behaviours that start fires in the first place.”

The Brigade’s figures show that the number of fires in London has fallen by fifty per cent in the last ten years, and latest figures show that they continued to fall at the same rate last year.

The ten fire stations are set to close at the end of the night shift (9.30am) on Thursday. The following 10 fire stations will close: Belsize, Bow, Clerkenwell, Downham, Kingsland, Knightsbridge, Silvertown, Southwark, Westminster and Woolwich.


Fire engines

Second fire engines will be removed from seven fire stations at: Chingford, Clapham, Hayes, Leyton, Leytonstone, Peckham and Whitechapel.

Five fire stations will receive an additional second fire engine at: East Greenwich, Hendon, Orpington, Stanmore and Twickenham.


Fire Rescue Units

The number of fire rescue units (specialist rescue vehicles) will be reduced from 16 to 14. Fire rescue units will be removed from Hornchurch and Millwall.

There will be a reduction in the minimum crewing levels on fire rescue units from five firefighters to four firefighters.


Judicial review

In 2013, seven London boroughs applied for a judicial review to challenge the Fifth London Safety Plan. The judicial review which challenged the Fifth London Safety Plan was not successful, meaning the LSP5 plans can go ahead as planned.

Article written by Brian Shillibeer | Published 08 January 2014


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