Jun 15 2012 By Ian Proctor
Firefighters battle the blaze at The Matrix
CLOSING fire stations have not been ruled out by the budget-squeezed London Fire Brigade - although its top man said "no decisions have been taken".
Paul Embery, regional secretary of the Fire Brigade Union, said: "They're well aware they need to save £65million over two years and you can't do that by just cutting back office staff and so they'll need to make frontline savings.
"It may be pure speculation at the moment as to regards which stations will be affected. We haven't seen any definite list. It could be a combination of the quieter outlying stations which they could more easily do without and the more costlier stations to maintain in central London."
London Assembly member for Harrow and Brent Navin Shah (Labour) challenged the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, last week at a Mayor's Question Time session to rule out shutting branches.
Mr Shah said: "I clearly sought a guarantee from the mayor that he won't be closing fire stations but he failed to provide that guarantee, which is extremely worrying. In his first term, Boris made a commitment to maintain frontline services but his election manifesto was silent on this issue.
"Given the financial pressures on the London Fire and Emegerney Planning Authority, there seems to be a clear agenda to close fire stations and reduce fire appliances as reported in the Evening Standard.
"I am extremely concerned about losing Stanmore Fire Station which was on the list of proposed stations to close and I'm seeking further information on this."
The London Fire Brigade's own statistics show that Stanmore Fire Station, in Honeypot Lane, Kingsbury, is actually busier than Harrow Fire Station in Pinner Road, Harrow.
Across London the brigade has around 6,000 personnel, 169 fire engines and 113 fire stations, and Mr Embery believe the required cuts could come from cutting or shutting stations and the non-replacement of firefighters to who or retire, so-called 'natural wastage'.
Ron Dobson, Commissioner of London Fire Brigade, said: “In the last four years, the London Fire Brigade has saved over £40m without changing the core emergency response service we provide.
"Despite this, we still need to make substantial savings over the next couple of years. At the moment, there are no proposals, so clearly, no decisions have yet been taken. Regardless of how these savings are made, London will continue to benefit from a first class fire and rescue service.”
Fire station stats on page 2