London's Mayor Restores Fire Stations Cuts

The authority over the London Fire Brigade voted July 18 not to close 12 stations and about 520 firefighter positions, but Mayor Boris Johnson ordered it Aug. 5 to reverse course.

The London Fire Brigade apparently will have to close several stations and eliminate about 520 firefighter positions, now that London Mayor Boris Johnson has issued an Aug. 5 order to the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority. The agency, which oversees the brigade, voted July 18 not to approve the London Fire Commissioner's Fifth London Safety Plan 2013-2016, which called for the reductions.

The commissioner's plan cuts firefighter positions, fire stations, and apparatus, saving £35m in 2014-15. "The Mayor has stated that he cannot allow this situation to continue and has indicated that, in the knowledge that frontline savings can be made without affecting public safety, he wishes to direct LFEPA to adopt and publish the final Plan in the form put forward by the Commissioner and to authorise the Commissioner to commence implementation. The Mayor requires LFEPA to complete these actions by 16 September 2013," according to the mayor’s announcement.

Ron Dobson, commissioner of the brigade, said it responds to about half as many fires now as 10 years ago, "a third fewer house fires, and almost a third fewer incidents overall. But there is always more to be done," he said. "In the future, the resources available to the brigade will reduce and the number of people who can work for the brigade and provide our services will also reduce. We have passed the point where we can make the necessary level of savings without any impact on our fire stations. In this draft plan, I set out how I propose to make those savings, while continuing to provide an excellent emergency response service and also protecting the delivery of community safety and fire safety services. I remain committed to my long-term vision for London Fire Brigade to remain a world-class fire and rescue service for London, Londoners, and visitors. This draft plan sets out in more detail how I plan to continue to achieve that over the next three years."

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