Pointless London Fire Brigade strike

This afternoon the London Fire Brigade Union voted for strike action and it is the most pointless of strikes.

It has been called for the most trivial of reasons, not job losses, not pay cuts, not longer contractual hours, this strike is about a small change in their shift patterns. At the moment firefighters work two 9-hour day shifts, then two 15-hour night shifts and then get four days off. The new plan will be the same in all respects other than the day and night shifts will both become 12-hours long, meaning that they still have a 48-hour working week and four protected days off.

What these changes will mean that crews are not swapping shifts during the morning and evening rush hours (as they currently do) and more fire prevention work can be done (traditionally day shift work). These changes will bring them into line with other fire brigades across the country.

You won’t be seeing soldiers or Green Goddesses on the streets of London this time because the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority has put in place alternative fire cover arrangements. 27 fire engines and 700 private firefighters have been contracted to provide emergency cover if the strike goes ahead.

I’m far from convinced that Londoners will have much sympathy for the Fire Brigade Union when they find why this strike has been called.

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UPDATE: If you want to see the full implications of this type of shift pattern change, Dorset Fire and rescue have an excellent document on their website which explains it all in great detail.

27 responses to “Pointless London Fire Brigade strike

  1. Maybe you should look into the issue a bit more before blessing us with your opinion. The strike is because of the bullying tactics of the (Tory-led) authority i.e. sacking every firefighter – the entire operational workforce. Great way to show your workers (who risk their lives every day) that they're valued.

  2. Yet another person who wants to have his say but has failed to get all the facts. Well done for jumping onboard the government media machine. The chairman and the rest of LFEPA can give themselves a 25% pay rise while the rest of the public sector is on a pay freeze and then rip up 5500 contracts that have been signed and agreed by both parties on accepting employment, as an when they feel like. Are contracts not worth the paper they are written on any more? why shouldn't they be allowed to stand up for their selves?

  3. Go on lads and lases were right behind you, dont let the plonkers have there way. how much more fire safety can the day shift do that the night cant? and night training is also possible so why change somthing that aint broke??
    a london tax payer

  4. The firefighters have cultivated an image of non-stop heroic action, so any attempt at reform will be presented as an insult to their bravery and a threat to public safety.

    It is true that they show tremendous courage in the rare moments when they are called upon to tackle a serious blaze, but then there are a host of other jobs which are even more dangerous, including deep-sea fishing, construction work or soldiering.

    Respect for bravery should not be a prop for chronic inefficiencies and waste of public money.

    Every painful step towards greater responsiveness is greeted with bullying threats of strikes and walkouts, with the result that the British public does not receive the emergency service it deserves from our firefighters.

  5. oh dear oh dear so miss guided

    How much public did it cost to get in a private consultation company in to work out these shifts?

    As you have said theybring no savings to the public.

    Please can you explain how it will make more time for public fire safety? You are adding 3 hours to a day shift,those alarms can be fitted on a nightshift but how many people want you round there house between 6-9 when there trying to relax after work?.
    Can you tell everyone how more fire safety can be done like this?

    Instead of opening your brain and coming up with biased uninformed tripe Try speakin to the people doing the job who can give you hundred of thousands of savings within the brigades witout changing frontline service.

  6. Everyone has a view some forged by facts others By opinions i am a serving firefighter and my role in life is to help others without thought for myself it is true that every call i get isnt to a major life or death situation, althoug i have been in situations where i have rescued people from certain death or serious injury, to deal with these situations i rely on my family for support, i have a baby daughter who if these shift changes were to happen i may not see awake for 4 days aswell as all the other strings attached by the brigade to the proposal truly if it happens whats to stop any employer doing it to anyone any time they feel like a change

  7. Anybody wish to discuss the real issue about these shift changes and why the Union can get a yes vote to strike action.
    A shorter night shift then the present 15 hours will mean less time on stand down [nice term for resting in bed]. This means that the firefighter will be in a less suitable rested state for part time work the following day.
    Yes I did enjoy this system of working for 30 + years with the LFB

  8. To the comment above, brave of you not to leave a name, just glad I didn't serve with you, you would of probably left me in a job if the floor collapsed! and do you still enjoy your welfare perks etc post retirement? you know the stuff we all pay in for each month, solidarity and all that, do you know what that means?

    Anyway lets give coleman and Johnson a pay freeze and change their working conditions lets have them working Christmas day, lets look at saving money at HQ and take some computers away or shall we talk about the firehouse at training centre and how much that cost the tax payer but it dosent actually work because it caught on fire..

  9. Well,

    James “cleverly”, obviously not so clever.

    Do you work for the brigade?
    me thinks not as your comments are wrong and you are obviously listening to the media, which are controlled by the government anyway.

    The “trivial reasons” that we are reluctantly voting for strike is to protect OUR fire service in the long run (although risking lives while we strike which we do not want to do,)

    Brian coleman is a complete bully, we have seen leaked documents from higher management showing how they WILL CLOSE STATIONS AT NIGHT ON 12 HOURS SHIFTS. This does not seem to get mentioned in the media.
    oh and by the way more fire deaths happen at night that also forgets to get mentioned. This WILL loose lives of people in london – let there be no doubt about that !

    I also think that the London Fire Brigade has breached the health and safety act by giving their employees 3 months of worry and stress by issueing section 188.

    WE WILL NOT BE BULLIED BY COLEMAN, MARK MY WORDS IF HE HAS HIS WAY – THE FIRE SERVICE AS WE KNOW IT WILL BE LOST – FOREVER

    How dare the greedy lying politician grant yourself 25% more in allowances, (tax free i`m guessing?) so you can take your mummy along you wrong-un
    Lets hope i never bump into you, or i could be looking at a 25 year stretch.

    You make me sick coleman you dirty litlle toad,thers not many people that i dislike on this planet but i hope that you contract a terminal illness very soon, or better still die in a house fire because you have closed the station at night.

    C0CK

  10. James
    you poor misguided idiot, stick to your job in rubbish and recycling and let the adults discuss why the LFB will be “day manning” fire stations in the future, due to the proposed equalization of day and night shifts.
    Lets just cross our fingers, trust the Politicians (and Councilors) and hope that its not ours?
    Watch out for the next London Safety Plan….. Because we are all going to be bugg***d

    I repeat a previous comment of… C**K.

  11. James,
    I will not hide behind an anonymous comment and challenge you here and now to find out the truth behind this dispute and not the political rhetoric being spouted by your Tory colleague Mr. Coleman.
    Interesting that you chose to link to a document from Dorset instead of the business case for change from the London Fire Brigade; I am not sure why a London politician would research the subject so poorly as to not look for evidence to support his opinion closer to home?
    If you are interested (but I doubt you will be)please post to the thread and I would be happy to email direct.

  12. As a SERVING ff with Strathclyde,I would like to offer my full support to our brothers and sisters in London.We are all sick to the back teeth listening to this political rhetoric from the Tory based media and the Tory luvvie gang,these people spue utter arrogance and their totally selfish attitude beggars beleif.They simply do not care as long as they can justify their exsistance and will go to any extent to do this,hopefully the people can see through their lies.KEEP THE FAITH AND DON'T LET THEM GRIND YOU DOWN.

  13. Why do people think Fire fighters risk there life everyday, I served 15 years never risked my life once I was prepared to but no need, my biggest problem and why I left was BOREDOM.

  14. Also I didnt know a fire fighter who did either but lets remember how many Scvaffolders, confined space workers died last year all as important to the life & economy of our country.

  15. James,
    kindly pull your nose out of the Mayor of Barnets` bottom and smell the roses.

    This is not about lazy Firefighters, its not about pay, its not about having a bed at night, its not about putting lives on the line every day in the line of duty.
    It is most certainly not about making Firefighters more productive, as they already work 24hrs a day. Can Mssrs Coleman and Dobson magic up 25hrs in a day?

    Its about shutting down fire stations, and reducing fire cover for tax payers in the future. (Remember all the promises of Queen Marys Hospital A&E)

    Think about it for once, 12 hour shifts means equal day and night shifts, this means Firefighters will be ordered to provide a variety of cover not the current 2 days, 2 nights, it could well be 4 days no nights…

    The London Safety Plan was mentioned earlier, I suggest people read this and watch out for the 2011 and 2012. And be warned as I believe that in the very near future 5500 Firefighters will be telling us “We told you so”.

    PS A Dorset fire service case for 12 hr shifts!
    Do some constructive research on London if you must comment, we are dealing with a fire service that serves over 10 times as many tax payers. Its a different kettle of fish!

    PPS say hello to Brian Coleman at the next tory boy conference

  16. James, everyone knows the shift change is about reducing fire cover at night. You need to get your facts right and don't just jump on the Tory Bandwagon…Oh too late, you called your sons Freddy and Rupert! The FBU have tabled a proposed 24hr shift pattern that meets Mr.Colemans criteria, ask him next time he gets out of his taxi!

  17. James
    It is really annoying that you, along with many of the posters here, have no idea of what you are talking about. The LFB management are treating a dedicated and professional workforce with total contempt. The LFB provides the people of London with a world class fire service. We have radically changed the way we operate over the last few years so claims that we are stuck in the past are farcical.
    It beggars belief that intelligent people can't see through the spin put out by LFB management and Brian Coleman, totally ignoring what professional firefighters are saying.
    If you can open your mind enough to take one little piece of advice, please let it be this.
    Please take extra care tommorow whilst driving around London. Please make sure your smoke alarm is working and just be extra careful. Despite the claims that 27 fire engines can cover the whole of London, THEY CAN'T!

  18. Stop complaining Firefighters. I respect what you do but you are well paid and have a generous benefits package. Changing shifts patterns doesn't seem too much to ask when people outside the public sector are struggling to keep their jobs. Get back to work and stop whining. You will only feel bad if something goes wrong on a strike day. The general public are not behind you on this one.

  19. I served for over 31 years in the Fire Service and went through 2 national strikes. The Labour Govt was in power both times, so no politicians are our friends ? When I retired in 2008 morale was never so low, why ? because of the draconian methods of service Chiefs implementing changes which did nothing to improve the efficiency of the Service, cuts was the agenda, hiding behind the IRMP. Real savings could be made getting rid of such things as NVQ's which never put out a fire or rescued public from RTC's floods ect. And the worst thing that was given away by Gilchrist was the overtime ban. My local 2 pump + 2 specials fire stn is now staffed with 10 Ffs down from 16. Part timers are brought in to make up crews 0n an ad hoc basis. This is playing with lives, not just the public but the crews. No wonder Ffs are striking, there is no trust in the Chiefs, and changing shift patterns, is just phase 1 of an overall plan to reduce cover. Stick it out lads before they wreck what was the best fire service in the world.

    Richard (DO retired)

  20. Just shows you the spin they put on things, the authority forgot to tell the public that their “contingency” work force started at 27 but ended the day with 11. The reasons why – 4 crashes ( 1 into a lamp post and another wedged in a width restriction lol), 1 appliance tugged by the police for using their blues to get through traffic to go to a McDonalds and others realising that it's not as easy as they thought.
    They responded to a flat fire on 6th floor which thanks to they're idiocy resulted in them loosing it and it spreading into another 3 flats and roof. They sent in 1 BA wearer (completely against procedures) who decided he didnt like the idea of it and turned round and came out.

  21. I dont think it matters what you are striking for. You work for a public body that is meant to be there on call, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

    To go on strike and put so many lives ast risk is disgusting (or is it simply a case that you dont often go to life or death situations that often??) and you should all be thoroughly ashamed. Imagine if nurses went on strike, people would die, imagine if police went on strike (which we are not allowed to!!) there would be anarchy.

    Just get on with the job that you all wanted to do with the aspirations you all had when you joined and stop complaining. It is not like the new shift pattern is that bad is it.

  22. I think what still amazes me with public opinion on this is how little of it is actually based on fact. If this was just about FF's being unable to get shut eye on a night shift then LFB FF's would have said yes to the shift proposal of two 11 hr days, two 13 hr nights and 4 rota days. Which according to certain LFB members I have spoken to they were offered as an alternative to the 12's. Keeping shifts at 13 hrs or more mean beds and down time remaining. What the service and the fire authority are actually attempting to do by altering the shift patterns is to scale back the amount of fire cover that the tax paying public gets, especially during the night. At present a certain home counties FRS has officers/managers sitting in the control room turning away calls (AFA's, assistance to the ambo service etc) so as to show lower call figures for the year. This will mean that they can axe whole fire stations. As for the argument of CFS work what FF's do is take a fire engine and its crew to anyones house who wants it and fit detectors (that come out of the FRS budget), and offer safety advice thats so basic its taught to primary school children as part of the curriculum. This is so as to reach government targets. Never mind the fact that for the most part these HFRA's are carried out on nice houses with nice cars in the drive that can bloody well afford to pay for their own detectors. What a tax payer is paying for with all services both emergency and military is an insurance policy that they will have a response and assistance in the event of an emergency situation. For that reason the public should be supporting all service personnel by opposing any cuts, however cleverly disguised they are. As for bonfire night its a quiet night for most FF's regardless of what propaganda tells you.

  23. This strike is absurd and should be defeated at all costs. The last strike changed the fire service for the worse and this one has the potential to do so too. It is all about making sure they still get beds and sleep and nothing to do with what is best for others.

    Numerous public sector workers have 12 hours shifts, many end up doing more in the health sector but do they ever get near a bed during their day at work? No way…

    Society owes a deep debt of gratitude to firefighters for the sacrifice they are prepared to make for us but they cannot expect in these times to have antiquated work patterns and practices preserved.

    Declaration of interest: Grandfather and his four sons all served for 20 years or more in the fire service.

  24. the last comment was clearly written by someone unable to read other comments or grasp the true situation that is facing all front line services. we're in a financial black hole thats the responsibility of politians on all sides of the fence. now they've decided that the best way to get out of it is to scale back vital front line services. this is so as not to have to deal with the true issues of a bloated public sector where quangos, hr, h&s and equality and diversity executives have seen their ranks swell, bumper pay rises and other perks added to their lucrative contracts etc. next it'll be an all out assualt on front line pensions which will be drawn up from the hutton inquiry. yet another hutton inquiry which will be just like the one on dr kelly and the legitimacy of the iraq war. a load of old ********.

  25. Funny how Mr Coleman said he was in favour of meeting after the interview with John Snow but both Mr Coleman & Com Dobson failed to attend the meeting with the FBU.
    Almost seems he wants the strikes to go ahead.

    Wonder if he realizes his “pet project” Assett co will fall to it's knees (he probrably not bothered because he'll get a directors job with them once this is all over)

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