London Mayor Boris Johnson has announced that he will back the axe of 13 fire engines in the capital in an effort to save money.
In November last year, getwestlondon reported that the London Fire Commissioner recommended to take the fire engines out of servic e in a bid to save money from the 2016/17 budget.
Option A of the commission, drawn up by the London Fire Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), was the recommendation to put the fire engines back in service, while option B was to scrap them.
The Mayor announced on Friday (February 19) that he backs the removal of the fire engines from service.
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “Frontline services and the safety of Londoners remain the Mayor's top priority, and after carefully considering the issues raised by the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and the results of the public consultation exercise, he has decided to direct LFEPA to follow the Fire Commissioner’s preferred option.
“Fires and fire deaths in London remain at a record low as the London Fire Brigade continues to do an excellent job.
According to the Mayor, the main argument for the axe is that since the fire engines have been held back, overall response times haven't suffered.
The spokesperson continued: “In the two and half years since these 13 appliances have been held back from the frontline, response time targets have continued to be comfortably met.
“The savings achieved by their permanent removal would allow more money to be invested in frontline officers, and help fund vital long term work to continue reducing the number of fires and deaths in the capital for many years to come.”
Firefighters' union urges axe plans to be dropped
According to Fire Brigades Union (FBU), the public consultation , which ran from December 7 to February 1, found that just 18% of Londoners supported the fire engine axe.
On February 10, Paul Embery, FBU Regional Secretary for London, wrote to the London Fire Commissioner urging him to drop the plans: “This consultation shows that the public acknowledge the dangers to life that will be posed by cutting appliances in our capital so severely.
“No-one wants this, and the LFB Commissioner has to now accept that public opinion does matter. Boris Johnson’s awful, unpopular idea to save money isn’t a good one. Lives and safety have to come first.”
Stephen Stephenson, Fire Brigade Union Representative at Chelsea fire station told getwestlondon that the average response times don't make up the whole picture.
“Since the last round of cuts in 2014, attendance times in London have got worse and it's only going to get worse as more fire engines are cut.
“Average attendance times don't give you the full story.
“The target of a fire engine getting to someone in six minutes has gone up, Westminster borough only meets their targets 68% of the time, while others are even less.
“With the next round of cuts on the horizon, it's only going to get worse.”