London's Oldest Fire Station Closed

Firefighters working at London's oldest fire station were in tears as they left after their last shift at the building near Kings Cross.

The station in Clerkenwell is one of 10 in London which closed on Thursday 9 January 2014 to make millions of pounds of savings.

Supporters clapped as the firemen and women from Green watch left, in civilian clothes, saying they had been told by their bosses they could not wear their uniforms.

The London brigade is also cutting 552 firefighter jobs and reducing the number of fire engines by 14 to help meet budget savings of £45 million over the next two years.

The Clerkenwell station is more than 140 years old, and opponents of the closure believe it will be converted into luxury flats.

Local Labour councillor Paul Convery revealed that efforts will be made to have the historic building listed as an asset of community value in a bid to prevent its immediate redevelopment.

Alex Badcock, who has worked at the station for 29 years, broke down as he left the building.

"This is a sad, sad day. Boris Johnson doesn't know what he's doing."

James Cleverly, chairman of the capital's fire authority, 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."

Paul Embery, London regional secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: "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 stations have protected generations of Londoners, and they are as necessary now as they ever were."

The London brigade said the number of fires in the capital has fallen by 50% in the last decade.

The fire stations closing are at Belsize, Bow, Clerkenwell, Downham, Kingsland, Knightsbridge, Silvertown, Southwark, Westminster and Woolwich.

A legal challenge to the closures, mounted by seven London boroughs last year, failed so the cuts will go ahead, leaving 102 fire stations and 155 engines.

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