The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has criticised a report by the London Fire Brigade which claimed that it had enough resources to cope during last monthâ€™s riots. The report, drawn up by service bosses, showed that firefighters attended over 800 fires between 6-10 August, and that sufficient staff and fire engines were available to deal with the disturbances.
But union leaders said the report attempted to hide the real story and that matters went beyond breaking point.
In particular, the union has collated an abundance of evidence, which it will publish shortly, showing that:
â€¢ Standard operating procedures were routinely ignored, with fewer than the stipulated number of firefighters and engines being sent to incidents
â€¢ Requests for additional resources by commanders at the scene were frequently refused owing to a lack of availability
â€¢ Hundreds of calls went unanswered by the brigadeâ€™s main control centre, with calls eventually being diverted to Surrey Fire and Rescue Service
â€¢ Non-life-threatening fires â€“ such as those in motor vehicles â€“ were left to burn out so resources could be concentrated elsewhere
â€¢ Control centre staff and senior officers worked well beyond normal working hours to prevent a deterioration of the situation
The unionâ€™s regional secretary, Joe MacVeigh, said: â€˜There is no doubt that our members performed admirably during the riots, and everyone will be grateful for their heroic efforts. They are men and women of extraordinary dedication and courage. But as a whole, the brigade was beyond breaking point, and it serves no-one for reports to be published which give a false representation of the situation.
â€œThere is no shame in admitting that resources were stretched. We know that these events were unprecedented, and it would be unreasonable to expect there not to be pressure on the service. So the brigade should be honest with people about the true picture, if only to ensure that lessons can be learned to ensure a better response in the future.
â€œPublishing one-sided, self-congratulating and disingenuous reports is neither in the interests of Londoners nor firefighters who too often during the riots were exposed to real dangers because of a lack of resources.â€
CONTACT: IAN LEAHAIR 07854 998505, PAUL EMBERY 07854 998508