Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/15999
Save London's fire service
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has condemned proposals by the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to close 12 fire stations, remove 18 fire engines and slash around 400 firefighter jobs.
Firefighters and their supporters from across London are lobbying the fire brigade's headquarters on Monday 21st January.
Paul Neale, London FBU southwest area organiser and 27 years a firefighter, spoke to Paula Mitchell:
The mayor claims response times won't be shortened. But instead of engines, they are looking at using specially adapted minis to attend incidents! So when they talk about the first vehicle on the scene it's not necessarily a fire engine.
It's possible you could have a mini within six minutes and then after eight minutes that's when a fully crewed fire engine turns up.
There was a report by management that we were stretched to our limits with the riots and terror attacks.
So cutting us further means we'll go below the safety critical limit and the people of London won't have the service they need or deserve.
God forbid when the first person dies, and even more if it's a child; will these people be held accountable for what's happened?
They come out with facts and figures about deaths in fires to justify cuts, but what they don't say is that they've changed the way they record fire deaths now.
They're making these cuts and yet they've wasted so much money. London Fire Brigade spent £15 million on a fire house for training that can't be used.
They built it at Southwark training station. They built it in a smoke-free zone so it can't be used for fires! And when it was used, the cabling melted. Apparently the police are using it now.
They privatised the fire engines but it's chaos, they've changed the company so many times it's unreal, they might as well have done the competitive tendering process with a musical chairs system. Now we're using engines 15-20 years old.
Now the fleet has changed hands again and Babcocks own it. Babcocks also got the contract for training as well.
The in-house bid was overlooked for whatever reason. Babcocks is doing all the recruitment. It's preparation for full privatisation.
There'll probably have to be compulsory redundancies, they're not getting enough numbers for voluntary. We have to fight this.
With all the cuts from the government, I think we all need to come out, we need a general strike.
FBU lobby: Monday 21st January, 1.30pm
London Fire Brigade HQ, 169 Union Street, Southwark, London
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 21 January 2013 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.