London Fire Brigade

Brigade withdraws 27 fire engines in readiness for strike action

13 October 2010

London Fire Brigade has withdrawn 27 fire engines from stations across London to prepare for the introduction of a contingency fire service should the Fire Brigades Union take strike action.

Fire Brigades Union members in the London Fire Brigade are currently being balloted on strike action in a dispute over proposed changes to start and finish times for station-based staff. If strike takes place, the Brigade can call on a contractor to maintain a contingency level of fire cover across the capital and the fire engines have been withdrawn as part of that process. Every one of the 27 engines has been removed from a fire station that has two fire engines, and the crew will remain at the station to provide additional resources to the remaining fire engine.

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: “This is not a decision that has been taken lightly and even at this late stage I am urging firefighters to consider the effects strike action might have. London’s fire authority has a legal duty to provide a fire and rescue service at all times, including during a strike we are no longer able to turn to the military as we did during the last strike in 2002/3”.

Despite the engines being removed from duty it is still business as usual for the Brigade. Many fire engines are used each and every day for training purposes while others are taken out of service to undergo maintenance. The capital still has the cover it needs to deal with emergencies.

Notes for editors:

In common with other UK fire and rescue services, the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority has a legal duty under the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 to provide a fire and rescue service. The Authority also has a duty under Section 2 of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 to plan for emergencies and that if an emergency occurs takes reasonable steps to make sure it is still able to continue to perform its functions.

In 2009 The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority signed a contract with AssetCo to provide London with a contingency level of fire and rescue services if  firefighters are not available for a number of reasons, for example, in the event of severe pandemic illness, natural disaster or catastrophic incident as well as industrial action.

The contingency arrangements allow the Brigade to place up to 27 fire appliances at strategic locations across the Brigade area and is a significant improvement on the green goddesses used during the last strike. The arrangements are not intended to replicate or replace what the Brigade does but gives, so far as is reasonably practicable, an acceptable level of contingency cover if the FBU strike.
As part of the contingency arrangements a reduced level of firefighting services will be provided. The contractor will be able to provide firefighting and some rescue capabilities, and will be able to provide a response to road traffic collisions.