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Havering’s only fire rescue unit, at Hornchurch Fire Station, could be axed - London Fire Brigade plans

12:39 12 July 2013

Crews tackled a flat blaze in East Finchley yesterday

Crews tackled a flat blaze in East Finchley yesterday

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Hornchurch Fire Station could be forced to axe the specialist engine that deals with road crashes, a shock report announced this week.

The fire rescue unit (FRU) at Hornchurch is one of two in London that face the chop in new proposals to slim down the London Fire Brigade’s operational costs.

An FRU contains specialist equipment to rescue people from car and train crashes, areas with dangerous levels of radiation, chemical spills, collapsed buildings and underground tunnels.

It can also rescue people from water, mud and ice.

All standard fire engines carry some cutting gear, but Hornchurch FRU is regularly deployed to road crashes outside the Hornchurch area because of its specialist tools.

It’s part of a revision to the Fifth London Safety Plan, originally published as a draft in January.

In that report, none of Havering’s four fire stations were earmarked for closure or cuts.

But the new plans will see two of the stations originally proposed for closure kept open, bankrolled by a cut in the number of FRUs and London-wide staff numbers.

Hornchurch’s FRU is the only such vehicle in Havering, with the nearest based in East Ham.

The FRU has been identified as one of the four least-used in London. There are 16 across the capital.

London Fire commissioner Rob Dobson said the new plans – which aim to save the Brigade £28million – took into account public opinion gleaned during the 15-week consultation on the initial report earlier this year.

He added the number of fires across the capital has halved in the last 10 years. On average, FRUs spend four per cent of their time at incidents, compared with seven per cent for a standard fire engine.

“Under my revised proposals, response times in London will remain amongst the very best of any emergency service in the UK,” he said, “and firefighters will continue to carry out community safety work to prevent fires at the same level as they do now.”

The report will be debated on Thursday by the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) at a public meeting at the Brigade headquarters.

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