London Fire Brigade

Commissioner publishes latest proposals on future of capital's fire service

10 July 2013

The London Fire Commissioner has today published revised proposals for the future of the capital’s fire and rescue service, which will now be discussed by the Fire Authority on Thursday, 18 July.

When first published in January, the draft Fifth London Safety Plan contained proposals to close 12 fire stations, remove 18 fire engines (pumping appliances), relocate four fire engines and reduce the number of firefighter posts by 520, in order to make savings of £28.8 million over the next two years.

The Plan has been revised following public consultation and now proposes to:

- Close 10 fire stations, rather than 12.
- Reduce the number of fire engines (pumping appliances) by 14, rather than 18.
- Reduce the number of fire rescue units (specialist rescue vehicles) from 16 to 14.
- Reduce minimum crewing levels on fire rescue units from 5 firefighters to 4.
- Reduce the number of firefighter posts overall by 552 instead of 520

Savings of £6 million resulting from changes to the number and use of fire rescue units (FRUs), would be used to keep Clapham fire station, in Lambeth, and New Cross fire station in Lewisham open. The saving would also mean that Chelsea fire station would retain two fire engines (instead of reducing by one), and East Greenwich fire station would gain an additional fire engine.

As with the initial proposals, the revised Plan seeks to maintain existing response time targets of getting the first fire engine to an incident, on average, in six minutes and the second, if needed in eight minutes. These are amongst the fastest target response times of any emergency service in the country.

The fire stations still proposed to close under the revised Plan are:

1. Belsize
2. Bow
3. Clerkenwell
4. Downham
5. Kingsland
6. Knightsbridge
7. Silvertown
8. Southwark
9. Westminster
10. Woolwich

London Fire Commissioner, Ron Dobson, said:

“I would like to thank all of those who contributed to the consultation process. I listened very hard to the views of everyone attending public meetings and where possible, my revised plan takes into account some of the concerns raised.

“We have to acknowledge that the number of fires we attend has gone down by half in the last ten years, and our latest figures show that fires continued to fall at the same rate last year.

“Under my revised proposals response times in London will remain amongst the very best of any emergency service in the UK and firefighters will continue to carry out community safety work to prevent fires at the same level as they do now. Fire stations and fire engines do not stop fires happening -  proactive prevention work does.”

The Commissioner was also keen to highlight that the plans for fire station closures must be seen in the wider context of all of the other recommendations in his report, including plans to reduce fires amongst vulnerable groups such as those living in sheltered housing; to lobby for sprinklers, particularly in the homes of those known to be most at risk from fire; to introduce cost recovery charges for repeat false fire alarm call outs and to continue to carry out thousands of home fire safety visits each year.

Publication of the new report follows a 15 week consultation on the Brigade’s Draft Fifth London Safety Plan, which outlines how the Brigade will continue to keep Londoners safe over the next three years, and includes proposals to save over £28m.

The consultation saw over 2,200 people respond and at least 1,330  attend public meetings, which covered every borough of London.

The report is set to be discussed by members of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), at a public meeting at the Brigade’s headquarters on Thursday 18 July.

Ends

Notes to editors

The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA)  will meet at 2pm on Thursday 18 July to discuss the report. Media wishing to attend should contact the Brigade’s press office on 020 8536 5922.

The report, including full details of how the proposals have been revised, can be found on the Brigade’s website: www.london-fire.gov.uk
Fire Rescue Units (FRUs):

The new proposals are to reduce Fire Rescue Units (FRU’s) by two, still leaving the Brigade with the highest number of FRU’s in the country at 14, and continuing to provide London with the FRU capability it needs in order to respond to a range of incidents. In addition, the proposals include reducing the crewing levels of each FRU from 5 to 4.

This proposal is made on the basis that other options were sought, and based on the utilisation of FRU appliances reducing to an average rate of 4 per cent, with the number of mobilisations reducing by 720 since 2010/11.

The cost saving of reducing the fleet of FRUs from 16 to 14 and  reducing the minimum crewing levels on fire rescue units from five firefighters to four  provides a combined saving of £6m, which would be used to keep two fire stations open and four pumping appliances on the road.

Under the proposals the FRUs would be removed from Hornchurch and Millwall fire stations.

FRUs are specialist vehicles, enabling crews to carry out line (rope) rescues and water rescue using inflatable boats.