Willesden fire station could lose an engine as part of £11m cuts
- Credit: Archant
Fire response times will increase under proposal to axe 13 engines
Willesden fire station is at risk of permanently losing one of its fire engines under controversial plans to fill an £11million black hole in the brigade’s budget.
The proposal by the London Fire Brigade (LFB) would see 13 of the capital’s engines permanently axed including one from Willesden, the Times can reveal.
Fire response times in Brent would increase as a result, according to the brigade’s own figures.
It will take five seconds longer on average for a first engine to reach a blaze and there will be an average increase of 37 seconds for a second engine to reach more serious fires.
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“I would say that any increase in response times would jeopardise public safety,” said London FBU regional secretary, Paul Embery.
“When you’re trapped in a fire, seconds count. And if you have to wait for a fire engine to arrive from further afield because your local engine has been taken out of service, that extra wait could be the difference between life and death.”
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The 13 engines, including Willesden’s, were temporarily taken out of service in August 2013 for use in the event of strike action by firefighters.
In June, just days before the engines were due to be returned to stations, Mayor of London Boris Johnson ordered they be left unused while plans to scrap them were considered.
The Times can reveal the head of the London Fire Brigade (LFB) has this week recommended all 13 should be scrapped permanently to cover an £11million black hole in the force’s budget for 2016-17.
The brigade says “targets can continue to be comfortably met at a London level” without the engines.
But the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has reacted furiously.
“We are completely opposed to this reckless, dangerous decision and we are hoping that it doesn’t go through,” said Mr Embery.
Two proposals are now on the table. One would see all 13 fire engines already out of service scrapped, including Willesden’s pump.
A second suggests the 13 engines could be chosen from any of London’s fire stations that have two or more engines. This option would see Willesden’s engine returned to use.
Dawn Butler, Labour MP for Brent Central, said: “It is deeply concerning that one of the proposals on the table is to decommission a fire engine at Willesden fire station.
“Meanwhile the Met is facing cuts that could mean 5,000 fewer police officers on our streets. Labour’s Mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan has spoken out against the scale of these fire and police cuts, which will put Londoners’ safety at risk. We need a Labour mayor to stand up for Londoners.”