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Romford fire engine cuts will affect response times

PUBLISHED: 07:00 12 November 2015

Paul Embery, London Fire Brigades Union regional secretary, explains waiting for a fire engine to arrive from further afield could make the difference between life and death

Paul Embery, London Fire Brigades Union regional secretary, explains waiting for a fire engine to arrive from further afield could make the difference between life and death

Archant

Romford could be set to lose one of its fire engines despite response times being above the eight-minute London target.

The Recorder can reveal the London Fire Brigade (LFB) plans to save £11m by removing 13 of the capital’s engines – including one from Romford Fire Station.

The engines were taken out of service in August 2013 to be used in the event of strike action.

But in June, when they were due to be redeployed to service, Mayor of London Boris Johnson ordered them to be stood down while the brigade considered its 2016/17 budget.

The news comes as LFB figures show response times for a second engine to reach fires in Havering increased between April and October this year, with the borough breaching the London-wide target of eight minutes this year and last.

Paul Embery, London Fire Brigades Union regional secretary, said: “Any increase in response times would jeopardise public safety. When you’re trapped in a fire, seconds count. And if you have to wait for a fire engine to arrive from further afield because your local engine has been taken out of service, that extra wait could be the difference between life and death.”

The brigade is considering two options for making the cuts but both would result in Romford losing its second engine.

Fire chiefs say “targets can continue to be comfortably met at a London level” without the engines.

A report on the proposals also said: “The long-term future of the fire service would appear to revolve around making better use of fewer frontline resources, noting the further grant reductions likely to come the way of the service.”

But according to LFB figures, if plans go ahead, the time it takes for a first fire engine to reach a blaze in the borough will increase by seven seconds on average and for a second engine by 40 seconds.

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: “My priority when exploring how we can make these savings is to ensure we don’t compromise our service to Londoners.”

A final decision is not expected until after the London mayoral election next May.

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