Two lessons from Tube fire incidents

29 August 2013

Two recent incidents have demonstrated the irresponsibility of reducing platform staff and cutting back on London fire stations, according to ASLEF’s general secretary Mick Whelan.

Earlier this month a fire on the track caused a packed District Line tube to stop for an hour between Southfields Station and Wimbledon Park Station. Fire fighters attending the fire distributed water to the disturbed and worried passengers stuck on the train.

On Sunday evening a Central Line train almost in Holland Park station filled with smoke, probably the result of a brake fault. Terrified passengers frantically tried to escape from the train by forcing open doors. ‘The doors weren't being opened, everyone was trying to smash windows, panicking and frightened,’ a passenger reported. This is a precaution to prevent passengers climbing onto live tracks as the train was not fully in the station.

‘Had there been sufficient platform staff in the second case,passenger fears could have been allayed, and the position explained to prevent panic,’ Mick Whelan says. ‘The first incident shows clearly that any cuts to London’s fire service would border on the criminal.’

Earlier this month Tory London mayor Boris Johnson overruled the governing body of London Fire Brigade and gave the go-ahead to close ten fire stations and cut 552 fire fighters’ jobs.

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