Over 600 could lose their jobs and seventeen fire stations across London could close, including stations in New Cross, Kingsland, Bow and Whitechapel, a document leaked to the BBC has revealed.
The cuts outlined in the leaked document were to be put before a meeting with the London fire authority on 22 November. The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) have been told by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to save £65m over two years.
The Fire Brigades Union said it had “grave concerns” over the proposal.
FBU’s regional secretary for London, Paul Embery said: “These proposals present the biggest threat to the London Fire Brigade since the days of the Luftwaffe and would lead to the decimation of fire cover in London.”
Johnson denied having seen a proposal to close specific fire stations but said, there are “certainly various options”.
Speaking to the London Assembly at the Mayor’s Question Time yesterday, he said he would make sure: “We don’t see any reduction in fire cover in the city”.
He said: “We will make sure that we don’t see a reduction in our ability to fight fires.”
He added that fatalities over the past decade had been cut by a third and that the number of fires in London had fallen by over half.
But Embery said the proposed cuts “could not be made without there being an impact on public safety” and called for Londoners to “join in with us in defending our London fire service.”
He said: “The stations under threat of closure have stood proudly for generations, protecting local residents from bombs, fire and terrorism, yet Boris Johnson is about to hammer a ‘For Sale’ sign on to their front doors.
“The London Fire Brigade is a proud organisation with a fine history. But it is now facing possibly its greatest challenge. Its leaders must do the right thing and tell the politicians these cuts are wrong and dangerous. If they don’t do it, the FBU will.”
James Cleverly, chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, told the BBC that the service had inherited some “quite antiquated” stations.
He said: “What we’re looking to do, as part of our budget saving process, is go to a slightly smaller number of on average larger and more modern fire stations, and that will enable us to maintain our attendance times and keep Londoners safe.”
EastLondonLines visited New Cross fire station earlier in the day, but staff said they were not able to comment at this time. However, it was clear that there was a sense of worry amongst the staff.
FBU will be represented in the TUC march against cuts this Saturday 20 October. EastLondonLines will be reporting on the demo with a live blog.
Stations earmarked for closure according to the document are: Acton, Belsize, Bow, Clapham, Clerkenwell, Downham, Islington, Kensington, Kingsland, Knightsbridge, New Cross, Peckham, Silvertown, Southwark, Westminster, Whitechapel, Woolwich.
Stations that would see a reduction in their fire fighting capability includes Chingford, Hayes, Leyton, Leytonstone.