Earlier this week the City Hall Labour group put out a press release about the London Fire Brigade’s emergency response times. The words “spinning like a top” sprang to my mind when I read it.
It announced, as if in some great exposé, that response times had increased in over half the wards in London since the implementation of the London Safety Plan (LSP5). The tone of the release was that I, the Commissioner and the Mayor had got it wrong and not heeded Labour’s warnings.
That could not be further from the truth.
Rather than proving the we got things wrong the changes in response times very closely match the changes that were modelled during the production of LSP5. If anything the increases in response times are not a large as predicted averaging only 15 seconds extra across London. We had to make difficult and significant changes but did so with the ability to protect Londoners as the first planning priority. We still have the fastest response times of any London emergency service and one of the fastest fire response times in the World.
The second point is that while 371 wards see response times increase there are 278 which see their response times reduce or stay the same. We have also increased the number of preventative home fire safety visits.
It is also worth noting that since the implementation of LSP5 we have had an extended period of industrial action which has required us to hold back 13 fire appliances for contingency crews. Had these been in front line operations, as we had planned, the Brigade’s response times would have been even better.
During LSP5 Labour said over and over again that the modelling was flawed, that we didn’t know what we were doing and that the Brigade’s ability to protect Londoners would be fatally flawed.
What we have seen is that the Brigade has maintained it top class response capability and done so during an extended period of industrial action and some of the worst floods for decades.
All their claims have been proven wrong and Labour should now apologise.