New data from the London Fire Brigade has revealed that in the first full year after Boris Johnson forced the closure of 10 London fire stations, including withdrawing one engine from Ealing, fire engine response times increased in two thirds of London’s wards. In Ealing 14 wards have seen an increase in response times. The analysis from Onkar Sahota AM, comes as the London Fire Brigade prepares to launch a consultation on proposals to meet £6.4m of cuts demanded by the Mayor. Amongst the proposals are plans to permanently cut 13 further fire engines, but Dr Sahota said “Londoners should be aware that there is an alternative that won’t see their fire engines cut, and that will prioritise their safety.”
The analysis of full year data for 2014/15 from Local London Assembly Member, Onkar Sahota AM, found that response times went up in 400 of London’s 654 wards when compared with the previous year, prior to the Mayor’s closure of 10 fire stations and the scrapping of 14 fire engines. 14 wards in Ealing saw an increase in response times last year.
On average people in 8 of Ealing’s wards are now waiting longer than the six minute response time target for a fire engine to arrive, with 6 wards also missing the eight minute target for a second fire engine to be on site.
The new response time data comes as the London Fire Brigade launches a consultation on proposals to find £6.4m savings demanded by the Mayor. Dr Sahota warned that the Fire Brigade’s proposals to permanently scrap 13 additional fire engines in the next year, potentially including an engine in Ealing, could see response times get even worse increasing the threat to public safety. The additional 13 fire engines in question were initially removed from service in order to cover potential strikes but the Mayor is now proposing to permanently scrap the engines as part of his cost cutting drive which will see £11.5m cut from the London Fire Brigade budget this year. £5.1m has already been identified through departmental savings.
Across the capital average response times for the first fire engine have increased by 13 seconds with second response times up by 25 seconds compared with the previous year.
However, amongst the proposals Londoners will be consulted on is an alternative budget from Andrew Dismore AM, Chair of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority’s Resources Committee. Mr Dismore’s alternative include plans to return the 13 fire engines to service and make a number of back office efficiencies and further re-prioritisations to meet the budget gap.
London Assembly Member, Onkar Sahota AM, said:
“Boris Johnson promised that his fire station cuts wouldn’t hurt but it’s clear lives are being put at risk.
“As a result of his cuts and fire station closures Londoners are now waiting longer for fire engines to arrive. The tragedy is that fires only take seconds to take hold and spread. There is little doubt that any increase in response times puts lives at risk.
“The Mayor’s primary job is to ensure the safety of Londoners, it’s clear his cuts have already had a major impact across the capital. Axing another 13 fire engines would only exacerbate the increase in response times and make it even harder for the LFB to protect the capital.
“Londoners should be aware that there is an alternative that won’t see their fire engines cut, and that will prioritise their safety.”