Woolwich fire station closure 'would have killed' Plumstead epileptic

Woolwich fire station closure 'would have killed' Plumstead epileptic

Carer Georgia Pope outside the fire-damaged flat in Pelthorne Grove

The flat in Pelthorne Grove after the fire

Jean Vecchi, 79, lost her six-year-old daughter Yvonne in a house fire in Peckham in 1971 and has campaigned to save Downham’s fire station three times.

Georgia Pope points to the boarded up windows following the fire

First published in News
Last updated
News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by , reporter

A PLUMSTEAD epilepsy sufferer would have "burned to death" if the Mayor of London’s axing of Woolwich fire station had come just four months earlier, her carer claims.

Stacy Lawson had a fit while smoking in her flat in Pelthorne Grove and was saved from the burning building by Woolwich’s fire crew - as Plumstead’s were held up in heavy traffic on March 15.

The 27-year-old’s carer has slammed Boris Johnson's revised £29m cost-cutting plans - which include shutting Woolwich’s fire station as well as Downham’s, while New Cross has been spared.

Carer Georgia Pope, 22, who came back from doing Ms Lawson's shopping to find chaos on Plumstead’s Glyndon Estate, said: "We need them. If Woolwich hadn’t got there in time, she could have burned to death.

"She had a severe epileptic fit, she was smoking a fag and that is how it happened.

"She was on the floor, she was screaming and shouting but she can’t remember it.

"She was in intensive care for 10 days.

"Her flat was completely burned down.

"Stacy needed them. Woolwich saved her life."

News Shopper: The Pelthorne Grove flat where the fire occurred

The Plumstead appliance was caught in heavy traffic meaning the engine from Woolwich arrived first on the scene at 12.34pm with Plumstead following five minutes later, according to a Fire Brigade Union spokesman.

A neighbour kicked down her door and raised the alarm before firefighters used breathing apparatus to enter the ground floor flat and found Ms Lawson unconscious in a back bedroom. They pulled her to safety before administering emergency first aid.

The blaze happened close to where a mother and daughter were recently killed after a fire broke out in their home in Purrett Road.

The revised plans come after months of angry consultation meetings over proposals to close 12 fire stations, withdraw engines and cut hundreds of jobs.

Greenwich Council’s Labour Group called on the Mayor to reconsider in March and claimed Woolwich Riverside ward, which covers the town centre and is an area of high population growth, has the fourth highest level of serious fires in London.

London Fire Brigade statistics from March showed there have been 31 serious fires in that ward over the past year.

The U-turn on New Cross will see the station stay open with one appliance, with East Greenwich receiving an additional one, but an extra 32 jobs will be lost across the London service.

Lewisham and Greenwich London Assembly member Len Duvall said: "At the public meetings in both Greenwich and Lewisham residents spoke with one voice against the closure of Woolwich and Downham fire stations.

"Boris has not listened to residents and is going ahead with his ill-thought out plan.

"Public meetings have shown that Londoners are fearful for the safety of the areas where they live and work.

"They are understandably worried about injuries and fatalities from fire."

Campaigners in Downham handed in a 4,000 strong petition to City Hall in January to keep the station open - which has been threatened with closure four times.

Downham resident Jean Vecchi, 79, lost her six-year-old daughter Yvonne in a horrific house fire in Peckham in 1971 and has campaigned tirelessly since then - leading victories to save Downham’s fire station three times.

News Shopper: Jean Vecchi, 79, lost her six-year-old daughter Yvonne in a house fire in Peckham in 1971 and has campaigned to save Downham’s fire station three times.

The great grandmother of seven, who lives in Reigate Road, told News Shopper: "I couldn’t be angrier.

"I am sure Boris has never been involved in a fire because, if he had, he would never dream of closing fire stations.

"Most of the ones he is closing are in working class, highly populated areas like Woolwich."

The revised plans come from recommendations made by London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson. Mr Dobson said: "I would like to thank all of those who contributed to the consultation process.

"I listened very hard to the views of everyone attending public meetings and where possible, my revised plan takes into account some of the concerns raised.

"We have to acknowledge that the number of fires we attend has gone down by half in the last ten years, and our latest figures show that fires continued to fall at the same rate last year.

"Under my revised proposals response times in London will remain amongst the very best of any emergency service in the UK and firefighters will continue to carry out community safety work to prevent fires at the same level as they do now.

"Fire stations and fire engines do not stop fires happening - proactive prevention work does."

To contact the Mayor of London ahead of the London Fire Authority meeting on July 18 email mayor@london.gov.uk and include your postal address.

Or send a letter to Mayor of London, Greater London Authority, City Hall, The Queen's Walk, More London, London SE1 2AA.

Comments (1)

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12:56am Tue 16 Jul 13

Mike Honcho says...

Stacy Lawson I have an idea for you, instead of blaming Boris Johnson or anyone else how about you stop smoking in doors. It's too easy to point the finger of blame elsewhere though instead of taking some personal responsibility you idiot.
Stacy Lawson I have an idea for you, instead of blaming Boris Johnson or anyone else how about you stop smoking in doors. It's too easy to point the finger of blame elsewhere though instead of taking some personal responsibility you idiot. Mike Honcho
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