EXCLUSIVE: LFB withdraws fire engine at Stratford ahead of strike vote

London Fire Brigade withdraws a fire engine from Stratford station as part of strike contingency plans.

IN a shock move London fire chiefs have withdrawn one of two frontline fire engines from Stratford station to counter a potential London-wide strike by fire crews.

The action by London Fire Brigade is part of a pre-emptive sweep that has seen 27 frontline appliances in all being taken out of service for contingency use in the event that a firefighters ballot result tomorrow backs a strike.

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said of the emergency plan: “This is not a decision that has been taken lightly.”

He went on to urge “at this late stage” that firefighters consider the effects strike action might have.

Defending the withdrawal of the machines for use by non Fire Brigade Union staffed contractors, he said: “London’s fire authority has a legal duty to provide a fire and rescue service at all times, including during a strike.”

He said the authority could no longer call on the army ‘Green Goddess’ fleet of firefighting appliances as it did in the 2002/03 dispute.

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A Brigade spokeswoman maintained that despite the engines being removed from duty it was “business as usual” and that Newham still had the cover it requires to deal with emergencies.

A firefighter from Stratford described the move to take away appliances as “despicable” and “inflammatory” and said that morale amongst crews was the lowest he had known.

The source told the Recorder that the withdrawn engine was being held by the Brigade in Ruislip for use by a contractor in the event of a strike.

Fire stations at East Ham, Plaistow and Silvertown still have their full compliment of engines and specialist equipment.

The development follows a work-to-rule over the Brigade’s moves to terminate existing contracts, which has resulted in some station closures over the past week.