ANGRY residents have added their signatures to an Echo petition to save Sunderland’s city centre fire station.
People living in the city’s old East End said the decision to close Sunderland Central station is another blow for the deprived area.
More than 300 of them have added their names to the Hold Fire petition, which is demanding the station remains open in the face of multimillion pound cuts.
Shirley Williams, chairwoman of the East End Residents’ Association, said the group “strongly opposed” the closure.
She added: “Every day people are suffering benefit cuts, affecting how they live, having to depend upon food banks and due to the Bedroom Tax, are suffering tenancy problems.
“Now, vulnerable people are faced with a reduction in the fire service provision.
“This cut is a health and safety issue and lives could be at risk.
“Firefighters are a valuable service, covering not only fires, but road accidents and many other rescue and tragedy provisions.”
Tyne and Wear Fire Authority announced in January they planned to close the Railway Row station due to Government-imposed cuts. They say the station will only close as a last resort.
Services will move from the city centre to Farringdon and Fulwell, and the new Marley Park Station, which is due to replace Sunderland Central.
The Echo’s Hold Fire petition now has more than 6,000 signatures demanding Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service rethinks its plans.
Chief Fire Officer Tom Capeling said he was confident response times to major fires in the city centre would remain within the six-minute bracket, even though the area would be relying on cover from outlying Roker, Farringdon and Washington stations.
•SAFC fans can this weekend sign the petition outside the Stadium of Light prior to Sunderland’s game with Crystal Palace on Saturday.