Claims by the London Fire Brigade that firefighters are well prepared for another 7/7 style terror attack in the capital have been challenged by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).
The radios issued to firefighters for underground use don’t work, according to the FBU’s regional secretary for London, Paul Embery. He said: “Our members say the radios are erratic and that the signal cuts out intermittently. They are certainly not of the high quality the London commissioner is claiming they are.” The lack of underground radios was a key problem for 7/7 firefighters who were unable to communicate with other emergency service workers, delaying the rescue operation.
The London Fire Brigade has 800 fewer firefighters since 7/7, the result of public service cuts, alongside nine fewer fire stations – several of the closed down stations sent crews to deal with the terrorist attacks. The capital has also lost 13 fire engines. Boris Johnson is refusing to return another 13 fire engines to the capital’s fire and rescue service to save money, whilst staff in the capital’s 999 control mobilising centre work excessive overtime to cover shortfalls.
Paul Embery added: “The massive cuts have impaired our ability to respond to all kinds of incidents. If there was a terror attack, our resources would be more stretched. To say we are better prepared is just not true, and it is grossly misleading to the public who are being encouraged to feel safer when they are not. The London Fire Brigade needs investment to deal with the growing terrorism threat, not more cuts.”
Nationally, the fire and rescue service has lost 7000 firefighter jobs since 2010, alongside 39 station closures. The FBU pays tribute to the fearless firefighters who were part of the 7/7 rescue, and remembers all of the 52 people who died in such horrific circumstances.
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