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King’s Cross fire 30 years on: Union warns cuts mean brigade would struggle to deal with similar blaze

Sadiq Khan joins service to honour victims of 1987 tragedy

24 November, 2017 — By Tom Foot

A service was held at King’s Cross station to remember victims of the fire

UNION chiefs have warned that the fire service would struggle to cope with another King’s Cross on the 30th anniversary of the tube blaze disaster.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) pointed out that six of the fire stations that responded to the 1987 incident have since been shut down, including Belsize and Clerkenwell.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said: “As the maps we have prepared show, six stations that responded to King’s Cross – Clerkenwell, Belsize, Westminster, Marylebone, 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.”

On November 18, 1987, 30 fire engines from 22 fire stations sent crews to the horrific King’s Cross fire, which was started on an escalator by a discarded cigarette. Thirty-one people died in the fire and 60 more were injured in the tragedy that triggered a major public inquiry.

It led to a series of changes on the London Underground. Families and survivors held a minute’s silence on Saturday in the concourse of the rebuilt station and laid a wreath by a plaque that lists the names of the dead. London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Camden Council leader Georgia Gould, transport chiefs and rail union leaders also attended a special memorial service in St Pancras Church marking the anniversary.

The memorial was led by the London fire brigade chaplain Rev Ian Black. Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said the King’s Cross fire stands alongside the disaster at Grenfell Tower as a reminder that “safety and regulation must remain our watchwords regardless of what the bottom line says on a set of accounts”. Meanwhile, a former headteacher of La Sainte Union School, Sister Teresa Finn, attended a memorial event for one of the Dartmouth Park school’s former pupils, Treena Chappell, and other Irish victims of the fire, at the Blessed Sacrament church in Copenhagen Street, King’s Cross. Treena, aged 16, was the youngest victim of the fire.

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