London Fire Brigade

Firefighters stage ‘limo chop’ in Covent Garden to highlight dangers of illegal limousines

14 May 2013

London firefighters are set to showcase the vital rescue skills used at the scene of accidents by cutting up a limo in the heart of world-famous Covent Garden on 14 May 2013. Actors from Casualties Union will be ‘rescued’ from the limousine.

The event will highlight the dangers of illegal limousines operating in the capital. The London Fire Brigade has joined forces with the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), Transport for London (TfL) and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) in a bid to make people more vigilant when hiring a limousine. LFB’s award winning extrication team will be cutting up the limousine with trainers from Babcock.

In March 2012 TfL began working with VOSA and the MPS to increase enforcement against illegal luxury or novelty cars that have become part of the Capital's nightlife, following concerns raised by Traffic Commissioners. Since then, more than 19 operations have been carried out, with roadside checks carried out on 358 vehicles, of which 27 were seized and 232 given prohibitions, banning them from the public road.

London Fire Commissioner, Ron Dobson, said:

“Our crews are called to around ten road traffic accidents every day which is why it’s vital to have regular opportunities to practise their rescue skills. This demonstration will give them a fantastic opportunity to practise these life-saving skills in one of London’s most iconic spots.

“Londoners, tourists, and shoppers will get front row seats to this unique spectacle, as our crews use hydraulic equipment to cut up the limo and rescue people from inside it.

“The demo is a great opportunity for the public to see our skills in action, and hopefully it will make them think twice about hiring an illegal limo.”

The limousine, which is being provided by VOSA, was taken off the streets for failing to meet required safety standards.

Heather Cruickshank, VOSA’s Operations Director said:

"The majority of limousine operators are licensed and use their vehicles responsibly, but there is a sizeable minority that does not operate in this way - and the public must be alert to this risk. Only booking with licensed operators is the best way of minimising the risks to themselves and other road users - and helps send a clear message to those who chose to try and trade unlawfully."

London's Transport Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy CBE said:

“The safety and security of all road users is our key priority and illegal limousines present a real threat and danger to the safety of people who hire them. Through working proactively with other agencies we have successfully cracked down on these unsafe vehicles, prohibiting more than 150 vehicles from using London’s roads.

“We will continue to work with LFB, VOSA and our policing partners to remove these often uninsured, unlicensed and unsafe vehicles from our streets. Our advice to people who hire limousines is simple: Don’t put yourself and loved ones in danger, use a licensed operator. ”

The event will also emphasise the Brigade’s renewed commitment to road safety, as outlined in its draft fifth London Safety Plan, which summarises how the Brigade will continue to keep Londoners safe over the next three years.

ENDS

Notes to editors

The ‘Limo Chop’ event will be held in Covent Garden at 12:15pm on Tuesday 14 May 2013. Media are invited to attend to take photographs or video. Please arrive at midday if you intend to come. There are also opportunities for journalists to be cut out of the limousine, so please ring Ashley Fryer in the LFB press office on 020 8536 5922 if you’re interested.

Hi-res photos will be available after the exercise.

For more info, please ring or email Ashley Fryer in the LFB press office. 0208 536 5922 - 07881 269 498 - ashley.fryer@london-fire.gov.uk

Top tips for booking a limousine:

When planning your night out, always check the vehicle is safe, licensed, insured and legal. Before getting into a booked limousine make sure the driver can confirm your name, destination and check the driver's photo ID.

A booked limousine from a licensed operator:

• is one that has been booked directly with the limousine office/operator or legal broker;
• ensures your trip will be carried out by a licensed, insured driver in a licensed, insured vehicle;
• ensure a record is kept of your journey, your driver and the vehicle used so that, in the event of any problems, the driver can be traced.

To find a licensed operator:
• for a vehicle with fewer than nine passenger seats search for licensed operators at www.tfl.gov.uk/findaride;
• for a vehicle with nine or more passenger seats use the Operator Search at www.dft.gov.uk/vosa or call VOSA on 0300 123 9000

About the Draft Fifth London Safety Plan and consultation
• The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority is currently consulting on its Draft Fifth London Safety Plan, which outlines how the Authority will continue to keep Londoners safe over the next three years.
• Public meetings are being held across London, to which local people are invited to come along and have their say about the future of the fire service in the capital.
• Further details, including how to take part in the consultation, and details of the public meetings can be found here: http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/lsp5.asp