London Fire Brigade faces cuts

Plans for the closure of at least 17 of London’s 112 fire stations are contained in a proposal put forward by the mayor of London, Boris Johnson. The project, which has not yet been finalised, includes fire stations in the central London areas of Islington, Kensington, Southwark and Westminster.

The proposal is designed to save £65 million over the next two years and could involve 600 layoffs.

The Fire Brigade’s Union has said that all firefighters in London, both frontline and office staff, have been asked if they would consider leaving. The redundancy offer for administrative staff is £10,000.

The London Fire Brigade (LFB), which is the fourth-largest in the world after Tokyo, New York and Paris, employs 7,000 staff, of which nearly 6,000 are operational. In 2010-2011 it handled over 200,000 emergency calls but only 27,500 were fires. It also deals with traffic accidents, floods, people trapped in lifts and locked out of their houses, and other accidents such as hazardous waste spills.

The London fire service is facing a 25 per cent cut in government funding which is larger than the 20 per cent cut proposed for the police force.

According to the London Fire Commissioner the cost of operating a fire station with one vehicle is £1.4 million a year. He says that savings of £14 million have already been made, with another £21 million in the pipeline.

The final proposal for the fire service will be presented on 15 November.