‘Firefighters’ strike could put lives at risk’

A HAVERING firefighter claims that lives could be put at risk when crews strike over the row about shifts and contracts.

Hornchurch firefighter and branch chairman of the Havering Fire Brigade’s Union, Trevor McKeever argues that there could be a health and safety hazard when Havering’s crews join other London firefighters in the strike on Saturday October 23 and Monday November 1.

Trevor said: “I think the strike is going to put people’s lives at risk but we feel that we have no other option because the London Fire Brigade just do not want to talk.”

Firefighters voted last Friday October 15 to strike on both days from 10am to 6pm leading to walk outs at all four of the borough’s fire stations.

The strike will mean fire cover will be provided by a private company called AssetCo, who have already deployed 27 fire appliances to cover London during the time.

But Trevor argues that the company may lack specialist training to deal with chemical incidents and he believes that there is not enough cover for the whole of London.

He said: “No one really knows anything much about this company and we are not even sure that their staff will be trained to deal with the things that we do.

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“I hope that the Fire Brigade will get away with such poor cover because no one wants to see people hurt, but it is just a botch system.”

The campaign is over plans by the London Fire Brigade to dismiss all the firefighters over their refusal to take on new shift patterns and contracts.

The proposals would see crews working 11 hour day shifts and 13 hour nights as opposed to the current patterns of two days, two nights and four days off.

The chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, which runs the Fire Brigade, Brian Coleman argues that the Brigade have made attempts to compromise.

He said: “Firefighters are going to be striking over plans to reduce a 15 hour night shift by three hours and add those three hours to a nine hour day shift.

“That is all these proposals seek to do, no station closures, no increase in hours and no change to the four day rest period between shifts. This is about making more time in the day for vital training and fire prevention work.

“We’ve been discussing this for five years and have offered to compromise, so it’s time for the FBU (Fire Brigade Union) to stop blocking these changes.”

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