The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority is today launching a public consultation on its Draft Fifth London Safety Plan, which outlines how the Authority will continue to keep Londoners safe over the next three years.
The corporate view of the Authority is that, while it has recorded its opposition to station closures, appliance and staff reductions, it is consulting fairly on the draft LSP5 proposals which are subject to the Mayor’s direction and will take into account responses to the consultation before making a final decision.
Included in the plan are details of how the Authority proposes to make savings worth £28.8m, including closing 12 fire stations, removing 18 fire engines, relocating four fire engines and reducing the number of firefighter posts by 520. This would be done while maintaining existing response time targets of getting the first fire engine to an incident, on average across London, 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 and almost twice as fast as some other brigades. However, some boroughs will see reduced actual attendance times.
The consultation on the Draft Fifth London Safety Plan will begin on Monday 4 March 2013 and continue for 12 weeks, ending at 5pm on Tuesday 28 May 2013. Members of the public can have their say by calling 0800 9888 569, by writing to the London Fire Brigade at 169 Union Street, London, SE1 0LL or by attending public meetings in London Boroughs, details of which will soon be available.
Ron Dobson, Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, said:
“Compared to ten years ago, the Brigade attends half as many fires, a third fewer house fires and almost a third fewer incidents overall. But there is always more to be done. In the future, the resources available to the Brigade will reduce and the number of people who can work for the Brigade and provide our services will also reduce. We have passed the point where we can make the necessary level of savings without any impact on our fire stations.
“In this draft plan, I set out how I propose to make those savings, while continuing to provide an excellent emergency response service and also protecting the delivery of community safety and fire safety services. I remain committed to my long term vision for London Fire Brigade to remain a world class fire and rescue service for London, Londoners and visitors. This draft plan sets out in more detail how I plan to continue to achieve that over the next three years.”
James Cleverly, Chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, said:
“The Draft Fifth London Safety Plan explains how, over the coming years, London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority will deliver the Mayor’s objective of making the capital a safer city. The long term trend in London is for an ever decreasing number of fires, fire deaths and injuries from fire. This must continue.
“The plan outlines a range of proposals that together will ensure London Fire Brigade provides the public with the best fire and rescue service in the country while also playing its part in helping balance the nation’s finances. Under these proposals, more London boroughs will fall within the six minute average attendance time target for the first fire engine to arrive at an emergency and the Brigade's ability to deal with major incidents will be maintained.
“The Commissioner’s plan is based on the best possible information and his decades of experience as a firefighter spent keeping Londoners safe. I am pleased to be able to give it my full support.”
The proposals, and the savings LFB is being asked to make, come against a backdrop of the Brigade:
• Attending half as many fires compared to a decade ago
• A third fewer house fires than a decade ago
• Almost a third fewer incidents altogether
The proposals would see 12 fire stations close, seven fire stations that currently have two fire engines moving to one fire engine, and four stations gaining a fire engine (a net reduction of 18 fire engines) and a reduction in the number of firefighter posts of 520. Under the proposals, the Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade believes it would be possible to make these changes without making any operational firefighters compulsorily redundant. Details of the proposed changes are:
• Belsize – Close
• Bow – Close
• Clapham – Close
• Clerkenwell – Close
• Downham – Close
• Kingsland – Close
• Knightsbridge – Close
• New Cross – Close
• Silvertown – Close
• Southwark – Close
• Woolwich – Close
• Westminster – Close
• Chelsea – Two fire engines to one
• Chingford – 2 to 1
• Hayes – 2 to 1
• Leyton – 2 to 1
• Leytonstone – 2 to 1
• Peckham – 2 to 1
• Whitechapel – 2 to 1
• Hendon – One fire engine to two
• Orpington – 1 to 2
• Stanmore – 1 to 2
• Twickenham – 1 to 2
The Draft Fifth London Safety Plan sets out a range of other proposals including how the Brigade may start recovering costs from persistent false alarm offenders, encourage the installation of sprinkler systems where appropriate, and explore setting up the world’s first 999 twitter feed.
Members of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) originally met on Monday 21 January 2013 to discuss the proposals. An amendment was made by Labour members, which was supported by Liberal Democrat and Green members. The amendment meant that LFEPA did not agree to consultation on the part of the plan which deals with the closure of fire stations, or loss of appliances or operational posts.
The Conservative Members of the Authority opposed the amendment and instead unanimously supported the Commissioner’s proposals. Following this, the Mayor of London used his powers of direction to instruct LFEPA to begin a public consultation, by 13 February, on the version of the plan that was originally presented to the Authority.
At an extraordinary meeting of the Authority on Monday 11 February, a majority of members supported a resolution to stop compliance with the Mayor’s direction. Subsequently, the Mayor wrote to LFEPA saying that he would seek legal redress to ensure that his direction was followed. At a meeting of the Appointments and Urgency Committee on Tuesday 26 February members voted to authorise that public consultation on the whole of the draft fifth London Safety Plan could begin.