Demo over London fire service cuts
Published 18/07/2013 | 00:13
Firefighters will stage a demonstration outside a meeting set to discuss controversial plans to close stations and cut jobs in London.
The London Fire Authority will vote on whether to accept the closure of 10 fire stations, with the loss of 14 fire engines and 552 jobs to make savings of £28.8 million over the next two years.
The plan was revised following public consultations, with two stations removed from the closure proposals.
London fire commissioner Ron Dobson said: "We have to acknowledge that the number of fires we attend has gone down by half in the last 10 years, and our latest figures show that fires continued to fall at the same rate last year.
"Under my revised proposals response times in London will remain amongst the very best of any emergency service in the UK and firefighters will continue to carry out community safety work to prevent fires at the same level as they do now."
A survey of 1,500 Londoners for the Fire Brigades Union found that seven out of 10 believed the cuts would put public safety at risk.
Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary Matt Wrack said: "Government cuts are putting lives at risk across the country, but Londoners are particularly at threat because of the mayor's own attacks on the capital's fire service.
"In a fire, every second counts. These cuts plans ignore that crucial fact. The cuts are wrong, dangerous and massively unpopular among the public, and even Boris Johnson's Conservative support base.
"It's time for common sense and democracy to prevail and for public safety to be put first. These cuts must be stopped."
The union's regional secretary Paul Embery added: "These cuts are dangerous and wrong. They would lead to increased response times for millions of Londoners, which in turn would cost lives There has been massive public opposition to the cuts. Londoners cherish their fire service, and they don't want to see it decimated."