Monthly update: Fire Service

The consultation on the operational change options for next year’s Fire Brigade budget ends on 1st February. See also letter for publication – Still time to have your say over the future of Fire Service.

Since the consultation began, the budget position has improved considerably. As the Government did not claw back pension contributions as expected, and the FBU withdrew their threat of a strike over pensions, this means the savings target has reduced by £4.5 million.

The Fire Authority Resources Committee, which I chair, has recommended that any operational changes are best introduced, so far as possible, as part of a comprehensive package under the next fire cover review due for 2017 and that any operational changes for 2016/17 should be kept to the minimum required to produce a balanced budget. Instead of 13 appliances being removed only 4 would need to go to meet the Mayor’s cuts, but he still seems wedded to cut 13 fire engines anyway, instead of the package I have worked up to save them.

The Government have now decided to abolish the Fire Authority (I think in part at least as we have stood up to the Mayor to defend the Fire Brigade against him). It will be replaced from 2017 by bringing the Fire Brigade entirely under the control of the Mayor, through a deputy Mayor for fire and rescue.

On a happier note, this is the 150th anniversary of the London Fire Brigade: keep an eye out for the various events near you!