This week has seen the fifth anniversary of the sudden closure at a few hours notice of Radlett Fire Station on October 16, 2006.
This action was taken by the Hertfordshire Fire Service despite ongoing negotiations at the time being held by the then local county councillor to find a way to keep it open with extra funds being paid directly by local residents.
The main justification given by chief fire officer Roy Wilsher prior to the closure, was that there were “only four or five property fires in Radlett each year”. However, according to statistics I have obtained from the fire service under a Freedom of Information request, the average number of property fires each year in the parish of Aldenham in the subsequent years from 2005/6 to 2010/11 was actually 9.2.
He was also ignoring the fact that the Radlett fire crew was actually attending around 250 incidents each year, many in support of the Borehamwood crew, and especially for “primary” fires that require more than one fire crew to attend.
The fire service has stated that Hertfordshire needs 30 fire stations to provide a suitable level of cover and the report examines what would happen if each of them were taken away individually.
In all cases except one they would be a deterioration in cover. But in the case of Bushey Fire Station there would be no difference as fire crews from the new Watford station would be able to reach the incident as quickly or even faster than from Bushey.
I do not want to be the one to advocate the closure of another fire station, but it it clear to me that Hertfordshire Fire Service’s own statistics demonstrate very clearly that the appropriate thing to do is to close Bushey Fire Station and re-open Radlett.
I suspect I am not alone in thinking the only reason this has not been implemented is the resulting loss of face by the fire service, and Roy Wilsher in particular, if it were to be shown how wrong he was to close it in the first place. But this would be a U-turn that would certainly be greatly welcomed here and he might even be able to set foot in Radlett again should he want to.