Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

November 23, 2011 06:20 ET

Firefighters Call on Mayor to Step in to Delay Training Privatisation Decision and Halt Plans to Switch GBP 30 Million to Met Police

LONDON, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - Nov. 23, 2011) - London Fire Brigades Union has called on Mayor Boris Johnson to step in and delay the decision on the privatisation of firefighter training set to be taken at a London fire authority meeting on 24 November. The same meeting will be asked to endorse the switch of a further £30 million from London Fire Brigade reserves to the Met police - a £20 million 'one off' payment was made last year.

The union accused the fire authority, chaired by Brian Coleman, of rushing through the decision making process on the 25-year training contract worth £18 million a year. The union asked for the Mayor to step in and delay the decision until the Government reached a conclusion on how best to approach privatisation, some of which has resulted in huge long-term cost to the taxpayer.

The union said the in-house bid only narrowly missed winning the contract on relatively minor issues around computer-based training. The in-house service had been blocked from including £8 million of potential savings identified before the bidding started.

The union said there should have been much more emphasis placed on the ability to deliver safety critical core training skills for frontline crews. The FBU has serious concerns about the risks associated with the privatisation, in terms of safety, working conditions and long-term financial implications.

Privatisation of training means that at the end of the contract period - having paid at least £450 million at today's prices - the fire authority we will not own any of the facilities it has paid for over the life of the 25-year contract. The switch of a further £30 million to the Met was 'salt in the wounds' as the in-house training bid appears to have been rejected because of the lack of money to invest in new training facilities.

Ben Sprung, FBU Regional Official said: "We would urge the Mayor not to be bounced into a decision he may later regret. Trying to rush this into place by April next year means any problems will arise during the run-in to the Mayoral election which has obvious dangers for the Mayor.

"We have major concerns about safety and the long-term financial risks involved with privatising training. In our view the evaluation process was tilted against the in-house bid.

"The decision making took 2 months and they plan to have privatised training in place by April next year. There is a rush to judgement followed by a dash to implement and the timeframe is too tight.

"Training is critical to those who work in very hostile environments such as the fire service. It is central to the safety of firefighters and we urge the Mayor to step in and delay making this decision.

"Every political party says it has concerns over the cost of some privatisations which have lumbered the taxpayer with huge bills. These concerns appear to go out of the window when it comes to making decisions about fire service privatisation and that cannot be right."

The meeting takes place at 2pm, Thursday 24 November, London Fire Brigade, 169 Union Street, London SE1 0LL.

Contact Information

  • Media contact
    Ben Sprung
    07500 067088