Hornchurch to lose its Fire Rescue Unit after appeal to stop cuts fails

Fire Brigades Union rep Joe MacVeigh

Fire Brigades Union rep Joe MacVeigh - Credit: Archant

An appeal to stop cuts to London Fire Brigade services has been lost.

The High Court case was brought to the High Court by seven local authorities, who argued that the cuts were dangerous, irrational and unlawful.

The money saving measures will see Hornchurch Fire Station lose its specialist engine that deals with road crashes, despite 80% of calls to their team being about traffic collisions according to the FBU.

Under the cuts, the station will lose its FRU (Fire Rescue Unit), a specialist heavy-resuce vehicle that cuts people from car and train crashes. It can also deal with dangerous levels of radiation, chemical spills, collapsed buildings and underground tunnels as well as rescue people from water, mud and ice.

It is the only such vehicle in Havering, with the next nearest based in East Ham.

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

Joe Macveigh of the FBU has called the decision to cut the service ‘outrageous’ and said London Mayor Boris Johnson and London Fire commissioner Rob Dobson ‘should hang their heads in shame’.

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“It’s a scandalous decision,” he said. “It’s quite deplorable. That machine saves lives, the crews are more highly trained and without the FRU people will die. It’s one of the busiest units in London. The first fatality we have because the machine is gone will be on Boris Johnson amd Rob Dobson’s heads.

“They are putting pounds before people.”

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.

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