Dismore challenges Fire Chief over long term future of the Fire Brigade

At today’s London Assmeby plenary session with the Fire Commissioner, (preceding the meeting of the London Fire Authority which accepted Mr Dismore’s alternative budget for next year as the basis for consultation), Labour London Assembly and Fire Authority member Andrew Dismore AM challenged Ron Dobson, the Fire Commissioner, over the long term future of the Brigade when the next fire safety plan ( ‘LSP 6’) is produced to take effect in 2017. (Watch the exchange here)

Mr Dismore reminded the Commissioner that as a consequence of the closure of Belsize and Clerkenwell Fire Stations in the last fire safety plan (LSP 5) Camden had suffered more fire service cuts than anywhere else in London, with corresponding increases in attendance times in most of the borough. Mr Dismore also pointed out that it had taken a fire engine 15 minutes (instead of the target 6 minutes) to attend a ‘persons reported’ fire in Belsize in July this year, and while we were still waiting for the detailed report on the fatal fire a few weeks ago in Camden Road, it was a fact that the first fire engine attendance there had taken 14 minutes to arrive.

Mr Dismore also said that the impact on fire service attendance times of the road closures and restrictions that would follow from HS2 must be taken in to account.

Mr Dismore then asked the Commissioner, among other questions:

‘Do you rule out more cuts in front line fire engines?

‘Do you rule out more cuts in fire stations?

‘Do you rule out changes to firefighter shift patterns?

‘Do you rule out further cuts in the numbers of firefighters?

‘Will we see a further increase in first and second pump attendance times?

‘Will the unequal attendance times across London be addressed?’

When Mr Dobson refused to commit what was likely to be ‘in or out’, Mr Dismore offered:

‘I am willing to have a small bet of £5 with you, that the plan will include cuts to fire stations, fire engines and firefighters: will you accept the bet?’

Mr Dobson declined to accept.

‘Mr Dismore said after the session:

‘The fact that the Commissioner would not take my bet further shows that the direction of travel for more cuts in the emergency services under this Government is clear for all to see. The Mayor wants to cut 13 fire engines now, although there is no financial need to do so in light of our alternative budget plan. We all have to be worried about what will come next. But whatever it is, it is not going to be good news for the fire service and more importantly the people the fire brigades is there to protect.’


A film of the exchange can be found at https://vimeo.com/147598725