The Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade has published a draft plan to cover the next three years of the Brigade’s operations, the “London Safety Plan 5” (LSP5). Part of this plan addresses the tighter budget that we, like all public and many private institutions, now have but there is much more to this plan than just budget cuts and I am happy to recommend it to the Mayor.
Clearly the highest profile elements of the plan is that 12 of London’s fire stations will have to close, 18 pumping appliances (fire engines) will go and a reduction in the establishment of around 500 jobs. No one is pretending that is good news it isn’t the Armageddon scenario that some people are painting it as either.
From the start of the planning process there have been some red line issues and guiding principles. The London Fire Brigade has a performance standard to reach an emergency call with the first pump in six minutes or under and the second in eight or under, we decided that these standards and our ability to beat them was a red line issue and would be protected. It is worth knowing that the six and eight minutes are the quickest target times in the country by some way. In some parts of Greater Manchester, for example, the target attendance times are 12 or 17 minutes. The London Ambulance Service aims to get to life threatening calls in under eight minutes and the Metropolitan Police to the “I Calls” (top priority calls) in 15 minutes.
Currently the Fire Brigade’s London-wide average attendance is faster than the six and eight minute targets, in central London is considerably faster but is some outer London boroughs we are slightly slower. Under the proposals in LSP5 central London will see a small increase in attendance times, but will still have the fastest times in London and beat the target comfortably. Outer London will see its attendance times improve and a number of borough which currently fall outside our target time will come inside the six and eight minute times.
The ability of the Brigade to get to emergencies quickly is of paramount importance and I am pleased that we have a plan which save taxpayers money and maintains our position as the fastest fire brigade in the country and the fastest emergency service in London.