Fire station closures

The planned closures of Westminster and Knightsbridge fire stations, and the downgrade of Chelsea, under the Draft London Safety Plan 5, take no account of the special factors affecting this part of central London.
A million visitors a day, many narrow congested streets, London’s biggest concentration of high rise buildings, areas of high deprivation, and one of the world’s biggest concentration of heritage buildings, embassies and terrorist targets, means that Westminster has particular fire safety needs. The LSP5 does not seem to have taken that on board.
Its proposed response times for fire appliances to reach the scene are measured to the base of buildings, and therefore understate the time taken to reach higher stories of high rise properties.
Plans also need to take proper account of the fact that access from stations south of the river could be slowed down by traffic blockages on the bridges.
My understanding from the borough commander and consultation input from organisations such as Historic Royal Palaces is that, for some of the unique and complex heritage buildings in Westminster, fire crews need to plan and train on a regular basis with the staff who understand the special vulnerabilities of these sites. We need to know that fire crews will have enough time to do that properly under the new arrangements.
As I said in my speech at last night’s council meeting, in tfire safety, as in so many other things, Westminster is different. I’m not convinced the draft LSP5 has properly taken that into account.

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Antonia Cox

Westminster City Hall,
64 Victoria Street
London SW1E 6QP

0207 641 3411

acox@westminster.gov.uk

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