Think-tank Reform says Boris Johnson is not making enough cuts to London fire service

Tim Lezard

FBU logoThe FBU has dismissed recycled figures published by a right-wing think-tank as a politically motivated attack on the fire and rescue service to shore up the mayor’s flagging cuts programme.

The union was responding to a hatchet job dressed up as research by the so-called Reform organisation, apparently a charity which acts as an outrider for outrageous Tory policy proposals. They believe that fire cuts in London are justified and urge the mayor to go further.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “The central issue for people living and working in the capital are the risks from fire and other emergencies that the fire and rescue service deals with 24/7. The risks from fires at home, at work, as well as road traffic incidents, floods, from terrorism and a host of other things firefighters tackle every day have not reduced – in many cases they have increased.

“Firefighters can tell the public about the way we’ve dealt with significant risks in recent years, including the 7/7 attacks, the Olympics, huge fires, car crashes and much more. London firefighters dealt with a thousand more flood incidents in 2012 than in 2011, but these get no mention in this report.

“These right-wing ideologists talk about “demand” and “supply”, but fire cover is not a matter for markets. What matters are the risks, and whilst these change over time, there needs to be adequate fire cover for the spikes of intensive activity as well as for routine cover.

“The report ignores the fact that it is the activities of firefighters, through our face-to-face community safety work with vulnerable people, with schools and through the NHS that has driven down fires and fire deaths in the capital and elsewhere. That prevention work would be reduced by further cuts, which would directly hurt the public we serve.

“The report also ignores the impact of cuts on response times. When people call us, they expect the right number of firefighters and fire engines to make an intervention. Cuts put lives at stake.

“These figures are nothing new and have no bearing on discussions in London. These people want to chop up and privatise the fire and rescue service so their paymasters can squeeze more profits from public services. They should stop playing politics and let firefighters get on with the job of serving the public.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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