The day before AssetCo â€“ the troubled company which owns and maintains all London and Lincolnshireâ€™s fire engines â€“ faces likely winding up, the Fire Brigades Union spoke out against new plans for further privatisation of the fire service. It urged the London Fire Brigade to â€œlearn from past mistakes.â€
The London Fire Brigade is leading plans to privatise the control and mobilisation service, so that when you dial 999 you will be put through to employees of a private company instead of fire brigade employees. Under the contract, the successful bidder will take on the management of call handling software, IT maintenance and support, data management and business continuity services.
The Brigade also has plans to privatise the training of firefighters, and until recently AssetCo itself was the preferred bidder. â€œThe contract may now be given to the Kingdom of Bahrain, despite that kingdomâ€™s known human rights abusesâ€, said the FBUâ€™s executive member for London Ian Leahair.
â€œEvery time the London Fire Brigade privatises something, it all ends in tearsâ€ said Ian Leahair. â€œAssetCo is a nightmare for them which may yet end up with Londonâ€™s fire engines all being owned by the companyâ€™s creditors. The Private Finance Initiative, on which they have placed such reliance, has been shown by the Treasure Select Committee to offer poor value for money for taxpayers.
â€œWhy canâ€™t they learn from their mistakes and let their loyal, professional staff get on with the job? It means resisting political pressure from Councillor Brian Coleman, who chairs the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, but the professionals in charge of the London Fire Brigade need to learn to stand up for themselves and the service they lead.
â€œIt would send a clear signal that the London Fire Brigade was cleaning up its act if it were to announce tomorrow morning, on the day when AssetCo is likely to go under, that it will cancel all further privatisation. I urge the Brigade to do just that.â€
Gordon Fielden 07854998515
Paul Embery 07854998508