The former Kingsland Fire Station has been sold to a free school as new data shows fire engine response times in the surrounding area have shot up since the closure of the station
Hackney New School, based next door to the former fire station on Kingsland Road, announced at the weekend that it had purchased the site, which will become a new institution, Hackney New Primary School.
The primary school, which opened in September this year, is currently housed in temporary premises within its parent school.
The specialist music institution opened its doors to 50 pupils this year but at its capacity will offer 350 places to local families.
Siobhan Horisk, headteacher of the primary school, said the former fire station is the ideal site for the new premises: “Being so close will enable us to work together more effectively, particularly in relation to our music specialism.”
Campaigners who opposed the closure of the fire station in January 2014 had continued to call for it to reopen until it became clear in March this year that a buyer had been found.
An analysis of the most recent data by the Hackney Post found that the average fire engine response time in the surrounding De Beauvoir ward since the closure of the station is 57 per cent higher than the average for the past eighteen months.
This is compared to a London-wide increase of four percent over the same period and a nine per cent increase in Hackney. The average response time in De Beauvoir for the year up to August 2015 was six minutes 16 seconds.
The closure has also led to rising response times in neighbouring Dalston and Haggerston wards, averaging at 35 per cent and 37 per cent respectively.
Paul Embry, London Regional Secretary for the Fire Brigades’ Union, responded to the De Beauvoir figures, saying:
“These figures demonstrate that it was reckless and dangerous to close the station. Those extra seconds can be the difference between life and death.”
He continued: “We’re all in favour of more schools, but not at the expense of fire stations. We don’t see it as an ‘either, or’.”
Addressing the criticisms of fire station campaigners, Horisk said: “Whilst the fire station is a loss to the area, for us it makes good sense that the land will be used as a school for the community.”