Radlett, the nice Hertfordshire suburb in which I live, is famous for many things – swinging, prostitution and credit card theft, for instance – but it also has a fire station and rather wonderful one too. It was built in 1907, paid for by a local subscription, and it’s staffed, to this day, by a band of retained (part-time) fire fighters who can often be seen sprinting from their homes or their day jobs to the station to attend a fire.
My kids visit the station for open days, the cubs and brownies try out the hose in the yard and the descendants of the station’s founders still live here. This is a profoundly important community resource with psychological as well as practical value. Naturally enough, the local authority now wants to close Radlett fire station and the community has risen against them.
I suspect that the local Fire & Civil Defense Authority has picked the wrong prosperous, connected and media literate suburb, though: the web site is up, the PR agency appointed and the village festooned with nicely printed banners and posters. I think we’ll be keeping that fire station.