Havering fire station row

FIRE services in Havering will be reduced by half over the Christmas and Boxing Day period due to serious staffing issues, according to the Fire Brigades Union.

Hornchurch, Harold Hill and Wennington stations will all be hit by officer shortages and will effectively not be operational, it was claimed this week.

But fire chiefs insist that none of the stations will be closed and there is no reason for people to fear as services across the borough will remain in place.

Firefighters at the three Havering stations – and more than two dozen others across Greater London – have been told to take holidays because there are not enough senior officers to man the machines.

Chairman of Hornchurch FBU, Trevor McKeever, says at least 176 officer posts across the city are being covered by temporary promotions.

He added: “Fire officers are off with stress-related illnesses and they haven’t got enough cover. They are halving the number of applicances in Havering and also losing a specialist appliance, which attends road traffic accidents. It is putting public safety at risk.

“I know for a fact that White Watch have been rostered off and Hornchurch station will be closed.

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“We want to warn people to be extra careful because if there is a fire the nearest appliance will be coming from East Ham, and that’s if it isn’t on another job.”

He says “bullying and harassment” by managers have forced firefighters to a “work to contract” situation where they are refusing the hang on after shifts for late cover and work overtime.

The dispute is threatening to worsen as some of these workers are being docked 20 per cent of their pay, which could be an average �600 per month for an officer, and may lead to a High Court action, it is said.

Mr McKeever added: “Firefighters don’t wish for this confrontation, it’s being caused by management and their knee-jerk reactions.”

But a London Fire Brigade spokesman said that Havering would be covered as normal and that all stations in the borough would remain “live” in some form.

He said: “No fire station will be closed. Every year we organise the right level of fire cover for Christmas.”

He said if “unnecessary work-to-rule action was called off” normal service could be resumed.