Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Boris Johnson's secret plans for fire service cuts

Boris Johnson's Fire Authority is considering cutting back on night time cover, reducing crew sizes and even removing fire engines from service.

I have obtained a copy of a leaked confidential report, the existence of which was first revealed by Andrew Cryan at the Politics Show.

Among the options recommended are:

  • The removal of 10 fire engines from the night shift
  • A reduction in fire engine crew levels from five to four
  • The removal of some fire officer posts

Fire authority Chairman Brian Coleman also refused last week to rule out fire station closures in the future.

Crucially, the "options paper" reveals that the changes could lead to slower response times.

Under the heading titled "Disadvantages" officers admit that the changes could create "a lack of WMs [Watch Managers] available causing longer journey times to incidents"

In other words, it would take longer for firefighters to attend fires than under the current system.

Officers admit that the changes "will be perceived as cuts by staff and representative bodies."

They also admit that they could "create industrial relations issues."

However, FBU posters used at last week's protest have allowed the Conservative administration at City Hall to portray the dispute as an "aggressive and highly personal" one.

"The FBU's attacks on Brian have been aggressive and highly personal and these posters follow that pattern. The FBU are angry because London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) and senior managers of the Fire Brigade are changing the shift patterns in the light of changing risks and likely funding reductions. The FBU want everything to stay the same..."

However, the reality is that these changes could have a real impact on the work of firefighters, and more importantly, on the service they give to Londoners.


Anonymous said...

Brian Coleman is the roadblock to reform of the fireservice. He must go!

Brian Coleman aka Mr Toad has GOT to go said...

Dynamite Adam!

I have linked from:

Interesting that this is being spun as an "aggressive and highly personal" attack on Brian Coleman. Its not the first time that Coleman has tried to portray himself as the victim of personal attack.

The reality is that even the Conservatives don't like him, and for a host of very good reasons.

AdamB said...

It's easier for them to play up the personalities than deal with the issues.

If you watch the Politics Show report linked above you will see that Boris completely disassociates himself from the dispute and says that it is a matter for Brian and the unions. I imagine he's quite happy with Brian taking all the flak.

Anonymous said...

Yes but there comes a point when the Mayor has to take responsibility and provide some leadership where there are major disputes.

But then again as Boris only has two years left, he sense he won't be around when it all goes wrong

Tom said...

"Interesting that this is being spun as an "aggressive and highly personal" attack on Brian Coleman"

You say that like it's a bad thing. I'd reserve some of the aggression for the man who appointed him, mind.

ChrisW said...

It is sad to see this issue being made into pantomime with the cuts to fronline services, which is already happening, disappearing behind a cliched portrayal of a Conservative politician and Union intransigence.

The truth is London Fire Brigade and the Fire Authority LFEPA have already made huge cuts to frontline staff and are continuing to do so. In the current London Safety Plan there is no mention of cuts, that would be alarmist and open to challenge. What the plans do contain are "changes to crewing arrangements" which will reduce the availability of some appliances and the number of firefighters by around 70 in the next year. More than wiping out the proud boast of 29 new jobs for the new station.

Changes to shift patterns are a means to take this further. After all, with staff costs being the biggest expense (other than Coleman's taxi's)the only way to save money is to reduce the number of firefighters.

Coleman stated that the most people die from 8pm to 2 am and then said the changes were necessary to reflect changes in risk. How then does the removal of 10 appliances at night increase Londoners safety?

Albert B said...

At the end of the day the people of London will get the Fire Service they are prepared to put up with, the personalities will be irrelevant.
The most important thing is that a fire engine gets to a fire as quickly as possible otherwise people will die especially the vulnerable. The attendance times of fire engines have been getting longer and longer over the last ten years and that is after those times have been edited. The people of London either don't know or don't care about these gradual cuts to their fire service and the politicians realise this and exploit it. It is only when people die does anyone seem to care and by then it is too late.