Tories closed THREE fire stations near #Grenfell – and resisted sprinkler installation


The terrible events at the Grenfell Tower block this morning continue, with confirmed fatalities and injuries as well as reports that a number of people are still missing:

The SKWAWKBOX sends its sympathies to everyone affected and salutes the emergency services who, yet again, have put themselves at risk to help those in need.

But the disaster is made even more terrible and tragic by the fact that residents report that the Tories closed no fewer than three fire stations in the area, reducing the resources available to fight the fire and rescue people – and increasing the response time for firefighters who were available.

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A London firefighter devastated at the closure of his station

The stations were part of a widespread programme of closures instigated by then-London Mayor and now Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who spouted the usual nonsense about ‘tough decisions’ and claimed,

Whilst it’s right that tough decisions have to be made in times of economic uncertainty, the mayor is resolute that any agreed proposals will not reduce the capital’s fire cover and target response times will be protected

The residents at Grenfell and the relatives of those affected will disagree.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has warned since cuts – across the country as well as in London – were first announced, that reducing the number of fire stations would inevitably increase response times and put lives at risk. With horrible prescience, the FBU’s regional secretary Paul Embery said,

Mayor 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. You cannot close 10 fire stations and slash nearly 600 firefighter jobs without compromising public safety.

These proposed cuts are dangerous and wrong.  If they are implemented, they will undoubtedly jeopardise the safety of Londoners and firefighters alike.

The London Fire Brigade now faces perhaps the biggest threat to its ability to function since the Second World War.

The mayor has argued that response times will not be affected by these cuts. Aside from the fact that he has provided little supporting evidence for this claim, anyone who knows anything about firefighting knows that it isn’t just about the speed of response.

The weight of response, ensuring that you have adequate resources to deal with developing and large-scale incidents, is just as crucial.

These cuts would deplete the service and impair its ability to respond quickly and effectively to serious incidents.

Johnson was not only warned by firefighters that his rash cuts would cost lives. Seven councils went to court in an attempt to block the closures, with councillors and London Assembly members pointing to the inevitable consequences.

Labour AM Navin Shah said at the time,

This will reduce fire cover in London, these cuts will put the safety and security of Londoners at risk…the level of cuts forced on the London Fire Brigade by the Mayor and government are truly reckless. Boris’s cuts are hitting front-line services and putting public safety at risk.

while LibDem member Stephen Knight warned,

These cuts being forced on London’s fire brigade by Boris Johnson will make London less safe and are unnecessary.

To compound Johnson’s recklessness, the Tories resisted the installation of sprinklers in tower blocks such as Grenfell in spite of warnings of the risks:

Boris Johnson and the Tories have blood on their hands this morning, just as they were warned. And not only in London – fire deaths across the country have risen by 15% since the Tory cuts.

As ever, those who suffer the consequences of their eagerness to cut services, costs – and taxes for the rich – are innocent, ordinary people like you and me.

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  1. Add to that the fact that tenants had been warning about the potential for a major fire in this block for years. The private company in charge of management for this social Housing didn’t listen. The put profit before people. Because that is what they do.
    They spent millions tarting up the outside, with cladding. From the pictures I’ve seen it doesn’t look very fire resistant. They refused to put in a sprinkler system and had no communal fire alarm. They put in 1hr fire resistant front doors to the flats and told everyone, in the event of a fire, shut your door, stay in your flats. Is this block in the Constituency that elected a Labour MP last week, against the odds?

  2. The same borough who years ago conducted social cleansing to gerrymander a Tory election result, where they moved council tenants into flats condemned because of asbestos. Why am I not surprised.

  3. My heartfelt condolences to all those affected.

    Surely there must be a case for corporate manslaughter (At least) here?

  4. obvious questions are:
    1. how much was the block of flats insured for?
    2. how much is it now worth burned down?
    3. what are the planning restrictions and obligations of the owners ?

  5. You cannot put a price on a persons life. But it sadly appears that has been the case with regards to this tragic incident

  6. The blood is on the hands of whomever maintains/runs the building. Inadequate fire escapes alarms and sprinklers . Lack of rising dry main and terrible advice to stay in your domicile during a fire, All contributed to the deaths of these poor souls.

    1. It’s true, as far as it goes. But if Johnson and the Tories had not cut fire stations and officer numbers, more would have been there, as fast or faster, to save more people. The Tories have blood on their hands, whatever the outcome of the inquiry into the direct causes of the fire.

  7. fire deaths across the country have risen by 15% since the Tory cuts. Link for this please?

  8. Bodies are still being recovered and you use this tragedy to promote your political agenda. Shame on you! Show some respect.

    1. Giver yer head a wobble, will ya?

      Ask yourself just WHO made it political, the residents, or the incompetent, ignorant sh*thouses what ignored ALL the legitimate warnings, voted AGAINST regulations to make housing safer to maximise their rent profits and CLOSED fire stations – but bought water cannon in case the ‘common scum’ protested?

      Those people are dead/injured/homeless despite their genuine concerns falling on deaf ears.

      And you think it’s wrong to question the politics that led to that?


  9. My prayers to those who have lost their lives & my heartfelt condolences to all those who have lost family, relatives and friends. This is the most devastating tragedy – the loss of life all due to GREED STUPIDITY & ARROGANCE!!!! All those who are responsible including Boris, must be made accountable. Politics stink they don’t LISTEN to people nor do they have COMMON SENSE!!!!! JUSTICE must be seen to be done!

  10. 6 mins is a good response,it seems the outside panels are suspect&repeated warnings ignored ,but we shouldn’t cut any emergency services boris.

  11. I was distressed and dismayed that the fire service in general and the commissioner in particular have been singled out as the objects of blame for the way the fire was handled. Commissioner cotton stood by her officers, fire fighters and control room staff, I hope the FB, ,the CFOA, and other unions will do the same for her.

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