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This dispute is between the FBU and government about changes to firefighter pensions, but London Fire Brigade is responsible for providing a contingency fire service to the capital when strike action is taken.
Speaking after the strike action on 1 November, London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said:
"Our contingency fire service plans include an agreement with the FBU that in the event of a major incident the FBU will work with us for the safety of all. Upon us needing to use that agreement the Union advised firefighters to stay on strike as there was no risk to life and no agreement on the request – despite the fact that we had the agreement in place. They referred to the Dagenham fire as a ‘major’ fire in their own message to their members and then decided it wasn’t a major incident.
"Twenty fire engines, and 120 firefighters were dealing with the incident which involved 1500 tonnes of scrap metal, gas cylinders and was next to a site that falls under the control of major accident hazard regulations. There was significant smoke affecting the A13 which is a major road, and a joint emergency service response was in full progress.
"At a silver meeting held at 6.18pm, which provides an opportunity for all emergency responders to agree on how an incident is progressing and needs to be managed, the incident was made a major incident.
"This wasn’t about stopping the strike, it was about protecting Londoners, which is something I know firefighters believe in."
Following the end of the strike London firefighters were immediately sent back to the incident in Dagenham, with six appliances taking over from shortly after 11pm. Crews have remained at the scene throughout the past 24 hours. At the height of the incident twenty fire engines, three aerial adders, two high volume pumps and four command units were ordered to the scene.
The London Emergency Services Liaison Panel (LESLP) major incident Procedure Manual clearly states that a major incident can be declared in the event of large scale combined resources of Police, London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service.
In its instruction to members, the FBU issued the following statement:
MAJOR FIRE IN DAGENHAM: FBU ADVICE
You may be aware that a major fire has broken out at an industrial estate in Dagenham. At the time of writing, there are 12 appliances in attendance.
The FBU strike is due to begin at 1830 hours.