London Fire Brigade Trims OT Spending

The largest UK fire department announced a plan to save $640,000 per year for the next five years by cutting unnecessary overtime paid to firefighters.

The London Fire Brigade unveiled a plan to save $3.2 million in the next five years by cutting unnecessary overtime paid to firefighters. The announcement came a few days after England's Home Secretary, Theresa May, said cuts also are being made for police officers' OT.

The fire department, which is the largest in the United Kingdom, completed a report that found "pre-arranged overtime" can be cut by $640,000 annually by more closely analyzing staffing needed at fire stations.

The report was ordered by the chairman of the brigade's parent agency after a strike last November caused 27 fire engines to be taken out of service. "Taxpayers expect a world-class service from the London Fire Brigade, but they also expect their money to be spent wisely," said Brian Coleman, chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority. "As a result of last year's industrial action, we've learned that by scrutinizing more closely what staff we need, where, and when, we can keep London just as safe but at less cost.

"Last year, the brigade had to cope with strike action that included two eight-hour walkouts and months where firefighters worked to rule. This forced us to do things differently. If, as a result of industrial action, we have identified ways to make savings in how we work without affecting the service we provide, we have a duty to change."

The report will be discussed at the Finance and Personnel Committee on March 15. On March 3, the department launched its official Twitter feed to give Londoners real-time information about major fires and emergency incidents.

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