Burning issue

PUBLISHED: 10:26 19 March 2009 | UPDATED: 14:01 06 May 2010

SIR, — In response to the letter Lesson to Learn by Gordon Parsons (Herts Advertiser, March 5), regarding the number of times St Albans fire appliances were called to incidents in the area covered by Radlett s fire engine in 2008 and the times taken to

SIR, - In response to the letter "Lesson to Learn" by Gordon Parsons (Herts Advertiser, March 5), regarding the number of times St Albans fire appliances were called to incidents in the area covered by Radlett's fire engine in 2008 and the times taken to reach these incidents, your readers might also be interested in the following.

Since the closure of Radlett fire station I have personally witnessed engines travelling the wrong way to incidents in Radlett on at least three occasions. On one occasion last July which has still not been fully explained by Herts Chief Fire Office Roy Wilsher, there were six sightings of engines travelling the wrong way or not taking the quickest route, clearly lost, to an incident with persons reported in Scrubbitts Square, Radlett. In fact two engines actually stopped to ask directions from members of the public.

From data received from Herts Fire and Rescue Service under Freedom of Information legislation, it is interesting to note that there are frequently only a few seconds between the time a call is received and the time an engine is assigned. Frankly it beggars belief that an accurate location and assignment of engine could be done this quickly.

Furthermore, according to these figures, on January 21, 2009, at 19.38pm two engines were called to a suspected primary fire in Aldenham parish. Borehamwood's engine was first to arrive while the second engine was turned back. Residents in Stevenage should be worried to discover that the second engine on this incident was their own engine, which is further away than or must have passed Hatfield, Old Welwyn, Welwyn, Harpenden, Redbourn, Wheathampstead and St Albans fire station en route to the incident. Residents in Herts should also know that all the above engines as well as Borehamwood, Bushey, Cheshunt, Garston, Hemel Hempstead, Hertford, Hoddesdon, Kings Langley, Luton, Mill Hill, Potters Bar, Rickmansworth and Watford have been called to Radlett's ground since our fire station was closed.

The fact is that the retained fire service gives much more flexibility and not only fills the gaps in a desperately-overstretched service but do it at a fraction of the cost and with their local knowledge, particularly in Radlett, a lot more quickly.

The time has come for Herts Conservative councillors to admit that they got it wrong in closing Radlett and Bovingdon fire stations and reopen them before lives are lost. Voters would do well to remember these facts when voting in the county council elections in June.

STEPHEN OAKES-MONGER,

Park Road, Radlett.

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