VISITORS to Sunderland Airshow signed up in their droves to help save a city fire station from closure.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) were joined by MP Julie Elliott as they stood outside Fulwell Fire Station to ask for signatures for an Echo petition to save Sunderland Central Fire Station, in Millfield, from the axe.
Our Hold Fire campaign has so far generated more than 15,000 signatures after it was boosted by another 1,500 people over the weekend.
FBU rep Gordon Chalk said: “To get that many people signing the petition within an hour-and-a-half to two hours is fantastic.
“There were loads of people making their way down to the airshow who were more than happy to put their names down.” Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service announced plans earlier this year to shut down Sunderland Central in a bid to save millions of pounds.
Mr Chalk added that the importance of the station staying open was emphasised over the weekend, after a fire broke out in a cornfield near the airshow on Saturday evening.
Crews raced to the scene after the field caught fire during the Red Arrows’ display, as some onlookers saw the famous aircrafts disappear behind a large cloud of grey smoke.
No one was hurt in the blaze, which was quickly under control by officers.
“I’m at Fulwell station now and we had to request assistance straightaway from Central when the fire started,” said Mr Chalk.
“Thankfully, the wind was blowing in the opposite direction to the airshow, because if it wasn’t, then all of the people watching it would’ve been covered in smoke.
“Two crews from Central came to help us and it shows that they provide good back-up for the area when it’s needed.”
Ms Elliott said: “It was another fantastic day collecting signatures for the petition.
“We managed to get just over 1,500 over the course of the few hours we were there, which just goes to show the depth of feeling the people of Sunderland have towards their fire station.”