No further cuts should be made to the London Fire Brigade, an independent review of the service has concluded.
The review, commissioned by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and conducted by the former Chief Executive of the Greater London Authority Anthony Mayer, finds that overall the Fire Brigade has dealt well with cuts imposed by Boris Johnson.
But Anthony Mayer argues that no more cuts can be made if it is to have sufficient resources to meet the challenges of the future, and to keep Londoners safe.
Sadiq Khan appointed Mayer to assess the impact of reductions made to the service under the previous Mayor. Mayer was tasked with investigating whether the Fire Brigade needs any additional resources now or in the future, and its ability to effectively manage civil contingencies such as a flood or terror attack.
Mayer has found that, despite reductions to frontline services including the closure of 10 fire stations, the removal of 27 fire appliances and over 500 firefighter posts in order to make required savings of £100 million, the London Fire Brigade has performed well.
But while the Brigade has continued to hit its target of the first appliance being on the scene of an incident within an average of six minutes in nearly all of the capital’s boroughs, Mayer finds the number of individual wards now not meeting average attendance time targets has risen, in particular where a fire station has been closed.*
And, with funding under the current budget due to be reduced by a further £23.5 million over the next three years, Mayer has warned that any cuts in addition to this would have an impact on the service. They would particularly affect its capacity to manage new challenges and major incidents where the Fire Brigade needs to co-respond with ambulance services, including major health emergencies or terrorist attacks.
Anthony Mayer’s report will help inform the next London Safety Plan, the first led by the new Mayor.
Sadiq Khan said: “Keeping Londoners safe is my top priority, and I am extremely grateful to Anthony Mayer for this report. I wanted to be assured that our capital’s fire service has the resources it needs to cope in the event of a fire or a major emergency and am encouraged to see that despite heavy cuts, the London Fire Brigade continues to do a fantastic job. However, we cannot be complacent. I will be carefully considering these recommendations and doing everything in my power to ensure that every step is taken to keep London as prepared and safe as possible.”
London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: “I welcome this review and the independent scrutiny of our performance which it provides. While this report confirms that we continue to meet our London wide attendance time targets; it also stresses the importance of constantly reviewing the resource we have in place so that the Brigade continually adapts to the needs of London. We agree with this and we carefully and regularly scrutinise our response times and trends in incident data as a key part of our resource planning. We are also currently in the process of putting together our next London Safety Plan and this report’s findings will contribute to that process. The plan will be open to public consultation in November. ”
* 37 per cent of wards (242 wards) are now not meeting the average attendance time standard for a first appliance — an increase of 26 wards since 2011/12. The number of wards not meeting second appliance standards has grown from 140 to 151 over the same period.