Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

October 19, 2008 19:02 ET

London Firefighters Believe Government Has Let Them Down

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Oct. 20, 2008) -

MEDIA RELEASE: EMBARGO: 00.01 HOURS MONDAY OCTOBER 20

Most London firefighters think insufficient or inadequate training is compromising firefighters' safety. A majority want an end to cuts in frontline personnel, and most firefighters do not feel the government values them.

Government proposals to create eight big new fire control rooms for the whole country will make the fire and rescue service respond less well to incidents, and make firefighters less safe, in the opinion of a majority of firefighters.

This alarming picture of a discontented and disillusioned workforce in the fire and rescue service comes from a YouGov poll commissioned by the Fire Brigades Union. It comes at a time when the Fire Brigades Union is also expressing concern over firefighter safety and the increased numbers killed in recent years - firefighters will be lobbying Parliament on November 12.

Asked what were the four best ways of spending money on improving the fire and rescue service, almost nine out of 10 (88%) of those surveyed said more training, seven out of 10 (70%) said more frontline personnel, and almost half (45%) said modern and safe personal radios. Just one in 50 (2%) suggested moving to regional control centres.

So Government plans to close all 46 emergency fire control rooms in England and replace them with just 8 regional centres outside London got a comprehensive thumbs down from firefighters.

Two thirds (66%) agreed that "Insufficient or inadequate operational training is compromising the safety of firefighters at incidents." More than nine out of 10 (94%) agree that the fire service must "stop cutting frontline personnel if it is to provide a coherent, effective and safe response to the incidents it is expected to attend." Almost nine out of 10 (89%) do not agree that the government "really values the Fire and Rescue Service and those who work in it." More than nine out of ten (94%) think plans for 8 regional control centres will make the fire and rescue service's response worse.

"This is the authentic voice of the men and women who save lives every day, and it is telling the government, not just to change course, but to change its whole approach" said FBU London region secretary Joe MacVeigh. "They want resources to go into frontline personnel, training and equipment to do the job, which are being cut; not into extravagant and untried mammoth computer systems and the army of consultants required to explain why they do not work properly."

Mr MacVeigh added: "The madness of the government's proposal is that London has a perfectly good system based at Greenwich View Place (GVP) and a back up at Stratford Fire Station, both of which will close to allow a move to Merton.

"The communication technology being talked about would be an improvement but it can perfectly well be put in at GVP.

"GVP only opened in 2004 and is leased until 2011. It seems financial madness to move just to protect the Government plans on control nationally. The London fire authority has still not signed up to the control deal and I would like them to have the courage to say no to the government. The planned changes to our controls are totally wrong. There will be no savings, in fact it will cost the authority some Pounds Sterling 2 million per year more in the short to medium term."

YouGov interviewed 1,969 FBU members online across the UK between 4 and 14 August 2008, including a subset of 297 in London. Data are unweighted.

Contact Information

  • Fire Brigades Union
    Joe MacVeigh
    07854 998 500