Socialist Worker

Setback for London fire cuts after hundreds of firefighters take to the streets

by Annette Mackin
Issue No. 2362

Firefighters take part in a sitdown protest on London Bridge

Firefighters take part in a sitdown protest on London Bridge (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Some 600 firefighters and supporters marched against station closures and job cuts in London yesterday, Thursday.

Workers were protesting at plans by Tory mayor Boris Johnson to close 12 stations, remove 18 engines and slash 520 frontline firefighter posts. London FBU union called the march.

Firefighters staged a sit down protest on London Bridge chanting, “No ifs, no buts, no fire station cuts!” They then marched to the London Fire Authority, which voted to reject frontline cuts.

But London mayor Boris Johnson is determined to try and force them through. The cuts would significantly reduce response times and put lives at risk.

Jon Scott was the station manager at Whitechapel in 2004 when firefighters Billy Faust and Adam Meere died tackling a blaze.

He told Socialist Worker, “No matter how they try and dress it up, a standard house fire can double in 30 seconds. There is a direct link between the time it takes to put water on a fire and the time it takes to put it out.

“The times they’re quoting for response times aren’t accurate. They only count for when you reach the door, not when you start to tackle the fire.

“They count the London average time, which doesn’t take into account traffic, rush hour, road works or any of that.

“Firefighters are supposed to wait until support vehicles arrive before going in, but under the cuts support will be three minutes later. That’s too late. Firefighters will commit to going in and so be in a dangerous situation without cover.

“There’s no doubt these cuts will put people’s lives in danger.”

Firefighters from around Britain and the world, including New York, pledged solidarity to the campaign at a rally.

Fire Brigade’s Union (FBU) general secretary Matt Wrack said, “We are asked to pay for a crisis created by those gambling millions and millions every day in banks

“They say there isn’t any money. There’s plenty of money, but it’s in the wrong hands. Let’s stand together and continue the fight.”

There will be a memorial event this Saturday 20 July outside 419 Bethnal Green Road at noon. Firefighters will lay a wreath in memory of Billy Faust and Adam Meere, who died there while on a call in 2004. All welcome.
  

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Fri 19 Jul 2013, 10:01 BST
Issue No. 2362
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