Proposals from the Fire Brigade Commissioner to scrap 13 London Fire Engines faced fierce opposition this week when they were debated at a Resources Committee meeting of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA). It was revealed that despite fully costed alternatives which would protect front line services, the Commissioner was proposing cuts which could see North East London lose at least two of its fire engines.
At the meeting LFEPA members received proposals from the Commissioner which included scrapping 13 more fire engines from London’s fleet. The proposals are part of the Fire Brigade’s plans to deal with the £13.2 million Mayor Boris Johnson cut from its budget.
In preparation for any decision to axe the 13 fire engines the Fire Brigade has prepared two lists of stations from which the 13 fire engines could be taken including Shoreditch in Hackney. 13 engines have already been temporarily withdrawn from service but the Fire Brigade has yet to confirm whether these would be the same 13 which will eventually be axed if the cuts go ahead and have also created a list identifying the optimum stations from which to axe the engines. The final decision on the cuts will be taken in December with the Mayor having the final say.
Alternative proposals put forward by Labour Chair of the Fire Authority’s Resources Committee Andrew Dismore AM would see the 13 fire engines returned to their base stations along with a range of back office efficiencies and further re-prioritisations to meet the budget gap. The proposals also include extending alternate crewing arrangements for some of the special appliances which are called out far less frequently than regular fire engines.
In January 2014 the Mayor forced through the closure of 10 London fire stations and axed 14 fire engines, including axing fire engines in Leyton and Leytonstone. Subsequently response times across the capital rose.
The Mayor has already axed 14 fire engines and closed 10 London fire stations, the predictable result was that the time it takes fire engines to reach incidents increased.
There is little doubt that the Mayor’s plan to axe another 13 fire engines could have dire consequences for Londoners and would put lives at risk as it could mean North East London losing yet more fire engines.
Londoners need to know that there are clear and costed alternatives available that would protect the frontline and which the Mayor must seriously consider if he wants to protect the safety of the capital.
With Boris’ pledge to protect the frontline already in tatters, the fear is that he will have no problem breaking it further to axe yet more vital resources.