Barkingside flat fire occurs during Fire Brigade Union strike

A flat in Fencepiece Street that was destroyed in a fire.

A flat in Fencepiece Street that was destroyed in a fire. - Credit: Archant

A fire which left three floors of a Barkingside property severely damaged and saw 11 people evacuated from a neighbouring property, took place during the Fire Brigade Union’s strike on Saturday.

The fire began in a flat above Triton Cycles Shop in Broadway Parade, Fencepiece Road, Barkingside, on December 14, which unfortunately for the flat’s owners, coincided with the four hours Fire Brigade Union members were on strike.

An emergency call was made to the reserve firefighters at 8.06pm who attended the scene.

At 10pm the Hainault fire team returned from their strike and joined the contingency crews, where, according to a member of the Fire Brigade’s Union, they found the building ‘well alight’ and the ‘sky red with flames’.

Thirty-five firefighters and officers attended the fire, which required the use of a cherry picker and breathing apparatus, and was finally brought under control five hours after the initial call at 1.07am.

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No-one was inside the building and 11 people from the neighbouring property were evacuated.

The ground floor and first floor of the flat were severely damaged and the roof was destroyed.

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Contingency firefighters work for private contractors who are employed by the government to cover the strikes. The strike at the weekend saw all fire stations in London close between 6pm-10pm on Friday and Saturday, due to a row with the Government over pensions and retirement ages.

The reserves only receive training in how to respond to fires ‘defensively’, while fully trained members of the fire brigade respond to fires ‘offensively’ or ‘pro-actively’. This means reserve fire crew will pour water on the flames but won’t attempt to enter a building.

Mark Triphook of the Fire Brigade Union said: “We don’t believe they’re a safe alternative to us in a strike.”

A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: “Firefighters tackled a fire on Broadway Parade in Barkingside on Saturday night. The blaze damaged part of the ground floor, first floor, and roof of the building. No one was hurt, but fire crews evacuated 11 people from adjacent properties as a precaution.

“The fire occurred during the FBU strike, so two contingency crews attended before LFB crews took over after 10pm. Six fire engines went to the scene with 35 firefighters and officers.

“The fire was under control at 1.07am. The cause of the fire is under investigation by LFB and the Metropolitan Police.”

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