Some Hackney fire engines to be replaced with people carriers

Some fire engines in Hackney are set to be temporarily replaced with minibuses, and one firefighter believes lives could be “endangered” as a result.

The London Fire Brigade is gradually modifying its vehicles to create a low-emission fleet, in order to comply with new legislation.

But responsibility for the engines has been outsourced to the struggling private company, AssetCo, which is replacing fire engines with ordinary vehicles while the trucks are being serviced.

Shoreditch crews were given a minibus for two days last week when one of their two fire engines was taken away for modification and the brigade has confirmed that other stations across the capital will face similar measures before the end of the year.

Karl Haider, the branch union representative at Homerton Fire Station, told the Gazette: “It hasn’t happened here yet, but we’re told it will at some point, and if it does we will be extremely disappointed.

“If a fully equipped fire engine is to be replaced with a people carrier it’s not acceptable for us as professionals, and it’s not acceptable for the public.

“There will be a 50 percent reduction in fire cover for the area – it follows on that there’s an endangerment of life.

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“We can’t fight fires in them because there’ll be no equipment, like ladders or road traffic collision gear. All we can use them for is transport if we go out to fit smoke alarms.”

But a London Fire Brigade spokesman insisted public safety was not at risk.

He added: “For a few days, some stations that normally have two fire engines were given temporary use of personnel carriers so staff could still carry out community safety work.

“This happened only if a reserve fire engine was not available and stations that normally have one fire engine always received a replacement.”

AssetCo is facing debts of �140million, according to the Fire Brigade Union, but the company was granted deferment of a creditors’ winding up petition at the High Court last week.