LFEPA Cuts and the Safety of Londoners (Supplementary) [2]

Session date: 
December 2, 2015
Question By: 
Roger Evans
Organisation: 
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
Ron Dobson (Commissioner for Fire and Emergency Planning, London Fire Brigade)

Question

Roger Evans AM:  If you consider the 13 appliances that you are considering taking away plus the ones that were removed before, I believe the saving is around £25 million.

If by some miracle you were to have £25 million returned to your budget, Commissioner, would you ideally spend it on putting those appliances back or would you have other priorities that you think would keep London safer?

 

Answer

Answer for LFEPA Cuts and the Safety of Londoners (Supplementary) [2]

Answer for LFEPA Cuts and the Safety of Londoners (Supplementary) [2]

Answered By: 
Ron Dobson (Commissioner for Fire and Emergency Planning, London Fire Brigade)

Ron Dobson CBE QFSM (Commissioner for Fire and Emergency Planning, LFB):  I would refer back to my point that I made in my opening remarks or in answer to a question, which is that fire engines and fire stations do not prevent fires; they deal with fires once they have occurred.

My priority, if I were ever in the fortunate position of having that sort of money available, would firstly be to rebuild some of our fire stations in different places to where they are now because they are in the place they are now based upon standards that were introduced in 1947.  We are working to try to deliver a standard that is much higher within locations that do not necessarily support that in all cases.  Therefore, I certainly want to rebuild some of our fire stations in other places.

I would probably want to invest in some new technology.  I know there is a question about new technology later on in today’s agenda, but I certainly would like to invest in some new technology in order to achieve greater safety for firefighters and a greater response in terms of preventing fires.

However, as a really key way in which we could reduce the number of fire deaths and injuries, I would very much like to invest some of that money into proactive fire precautions in some people’s homes when we know those people are more vulnerable.  I know for a fact that there are people out there in the community who are vulnerable to the effects of fire.  If we could install things like portable sprinkler systems in their homes, it would make a significant difference in reducing the number of fire deaths in London and would make people a lot safer.  At the moment, unfortunately, the money does not exist either within local authorities’ budgets or our budgets to do that.  That £25 million could be very well invested in providing things in people’s homes when we know they are most at risk.

Roger Evans AM:  That was interesting.  It is not just a question of numbers of fire engines or fire stations.  It is more about how you use your resources.

Ron Dobson CBE QFSM (Commissioner for Fire and Emergency Planning, LFB):  It is, yes.

Roger Evans AM:  We have this same argument with the MPS, actually, which we understand well.

Compared to other brigades around the country, how has the LFB fared in this Spending Review?

Ron Dobson CBE QFSM (Commissioner for Fire and Emergency Planning, LFB):  In the Spending Review we have at the moment, I do not know because we have not seen the grant settlement from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).  We will not get that until later at Christmas.

However, if we look back over the last few years, I do not have the actual figures in front of me but I know for a fact that London has fared better than most other fire and rescue services.  We have fared better for two reasons.  One is that the level of grant has been reduced slightly less for us than it has for other fire authorities.  Also, in the last couple of years, as the Chairman has already remarked, the Mayor has protected us against the Government grant.  This year, the total amount of protection is around £19 million that we have in our budget, which is protected from the Government reduction from the DCLG.