Hackney residents’ lives “at risk” after London Fire Brigade remove pumps from fire stations
PUBLISHED: 16:16 15 August 2013 | UPDATED: 16:16 15 August 2013
Two fire pumps were removed from Kingsland and Shoreditch fire stations today by the London Fire Brigade.
The brigade said they had removed 27 pumps in total from stations across the capital “as part of the Brigade’s contingency plan to prepare for a potential strike over firefighter pensions by the Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU)”.
Firefighters are going to the ballot to decide whether they will take strike action over controversial and unpopular pension proposals on August 29 which would mean that firefighter could be dismissed on capability grounds and not given a pension.
Kingsland and Shoreditch fire stations both have two pumps each. Firefighters claim the fact they have lost one each puts a strain on the station in the result of a big emergency.
A Kingsland fire fighter said: “We were totally unaware. They seized the pumps at 12am today. We are not happy about it. Why did they seize them this early? The ballot does not finish until August 29 so nobody knows whether there will be strike action at this age.”
Ian Leahair, FBU executive council member for London regions, said: “We think the commissioner is being premature in his actions. The ballot results do not come out until August 29. He’s not recieved any announcements of strikes. He knows the unions need to give them seven days notice.
“We think what he’s doing is provocative, controversial and premature.
“We believe it will also pose risks to Londoners’ lives as there are no additional safety measures in place.”
London Fire Commissioner, Ron Dobson, defended the move, saying: “This dispute is between the FBU and Government, but as the national strike may involve London, we have a legal responsibility to prepare for the possibility of strike action in September.
“This is not a decision I have taken lightly and I am not presuming the ballot will result in a yes vote, but I need to ensure contingency plans are in place, which is why I’ve arranged for the temporary removal of 27 fire engines.
“I’d also like to point out that the dispute is completely separate to my Fifth London Safety Plan, which, amongst other things, proposes to close ten fire stations and reduce the number of fire engines by 14.”
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