ON Monday 25 February the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, will be holding a budget meeting at 10.00am at City Hall, at which his attempts to save £45m by shutting 12 fire stations, removing 18 engines and slashing 520 firefighter posts will be discussed.
The mayor’s opponents have organised a protest which will take place outside City Hall from 8.45am.
The Fire Brigades Union, (FBU) is supporting the protest, and is encouraging members to attend.
An FBU circular to members yesterday said: ‘Bring tunics and whistles. It is important that the mayor sees the huge level of opposition to his plans to decimate London’s fire service.’
The FBU added: ‘The protective equipment group (PEG) workshops, which maintains London firefighters breathing apparatus equipment and other respiratory protection equipment used by firefighters is to be outsourced to the private sector.
‘Yet again we see principal managers of the organisation selling off parts of the brigade; first vehicles, then training, now respiratory protective equipment which is risk critical.
‘Only recently we’ve become aware, as a result of the only other time our respiratory equipment was pre-delivery inspected (PDI) by the private sector, an important manufacture failure was not spotted on breathing apparatus cylinders, which would have been picked up by our in-house professionally trained team.’
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: ‘To date, I’m not aware of any complaints by anyone with regarding the work carried out by this team, therefore we are as shocked as anyone else, and will fight to resist this important area being privatised.’
FBU South West London region secretary Paul Neale said: ‘There will have to be industrial action to defend the London Fire Service. We rely on this equipment – if you look at what’s happened to everything else that’s been privatised in the fire service, our lives and those of the public would be put at risk. The sell-off can’t be allowed to go ahead.’