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.