Safety fears over firefighters’ dispute

Firefighter union chief says that an escalation in industrial action could pose safety risks

A UNION leader fears lives could be put at risk if planned escalation in firefighters’ industrial action goes ahead.

Danny West, Newham secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), said that the move, which is scheduled for Monday, could mean that some fire stations in the borough would be unable to answer emergency calls.

Mr West added that crews from outside Newham could be called out to fires meaning a loss of “valuable seconds”.

The FBU secretary said: “This is something that we have not taken lightly.

“We want London Fire Brigade (LFB) to know that we are exploring every alternative before taking strike action.”

However, LFB reassured residents that steps would be put in place to meet emergency calls while admitting that some disruption for short periods could be caused by the action.

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The LFB spokesman said: “If for any reason staff or fire engines in a particular station are unavailable we allocate resources from elsewhere to provide cover.

“We provide this sort of cover every day while crews are dealing with an emergency, carrying out community safety work or training away from their station.”

Industrial action by FBU has been mounted after LFB gave notice that it could terminate existing worker agreements if a resolution is not reached in negotiations over changes to shift patterns.

Conciliation talks between the two sides are currently being held.

The FBU is balloting its members on strike action with a result expected on October 14.