Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

August 24, 2011 06:19 ET

London's Fire Brigade Urged to "Learn From Its Mistakes" and Stop New Privatisation

LONDON, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - Aug. 24, 2011) - The day before AssetCo – the troubled company which owns and maintains all London and Lincolnshire's fire engines – faces likely winding up, the Fire Brigades Union spoke out against new plans for further privatisation of the fire service. It urged the London Fire Brigade to "learn from past mistakes."

The London Fire Brigade is leading plans to privatise the control and mobilisation service, so that when you dial 999 you will be put through to employees of a private company instead of fire brigade employees. Under the contract, the successful bidder will take on the management of call handling software, IT maintenance and support, data management and business continuity services.

The Brigade also has plans to privatise the training of firefighters, and until recently AssetCo itself was the preferred bidder. "The contract may now be given to the Kingdom of Bahrain, despite that kingdom's known human rights abuses", said the FBU's executive member for London Ian Leahair.

"Every time the London Fire Brigade privatises something, it all ends in tears" said Ian Leahair. "AssetCo is a nightmare for them which may yet end up with London's fire engines all being owned by the company's creditors. The Private Finance Initiative, on which they have placed such reliance, has been shown by the Treasure Select Committee to offer poor value for money for taxpayers.

"Why can't they learn from their mistakes and let their loyal, professional staff get on with the job? It means resisting political pressure from Councillor Brian Coleman, who chairs the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, but the professionals in charge of the London Fire Brigade need to learn to stand up for themselves and the service they lead.

"It would send a clear signal that the London Fire Brigade was cleaning up its act if it were to announce tomorrow morning, on the day when AssetCo is likely to go under, that it will cancel all further privatisation. I urge the Brigade to do just that."

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