Could the London Fire Brigade cope with another King's Cross fire in 2017?

Capability to cope with a repeat of the King’s Cross fire could potentially be severely hampered by cuts to life saving fire and rescue service resources in the capital, according to information collated by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in the run up to the 30th anniversary of the King’s Cross fire.

On 18 November 1987 a total of 30 fire engines from 22 stations sent crews to the horrific King’s Cross fire, which was started on an escalator by a lighted cigarette. From these 22 stations, 13 fire engines have since then been cut from service, while six fire stations that sent fire engines have been closed completely due to budgets cuts (you can download infographics comparing resources in 1987 to 2017 here). More than 1,500 London firefighter jobs have gone as well.

Then: A map showing the resources the London Fire Brigade sent to the King's Cross fire in 1987


Now: Six fire stations and 13 fire engines that responded to King's Cross have been axed.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, himself a former London firefighter, said: “As the maps we have prepared show, six stations that responded to King’s Cross – Clerkenwell, Belsize, Westminster, Manchester Square, Kingsland and Silvertown – have all been shut down. This means that efforts to cope with another similar incident could be severely hampered, as there would be reduced capacity but also fire crews would have to travel from further afield which would delay the response.

“It is obscene that we are having to highlight this extremely concerning depletion of emergency response resources in our capital, in the very same year as the dreadful Grenfell Tower fire took more lives through fire in London than any since World War Two. 

“The government must address the issue of cuts to fire and rescue services up and down the country in the budget next week. It needs investment, not more cuts. How many more lives have to be put at risk, or even taken, before they will sit up and listen?” 

Share this story