IN THE LAST FEW YEARS, the London Fire Brigade has been savaged by funding cuts. These last three years alone, we have seen ten fire station closures, 29 fire engines removed from frontline service and over 1,000 firefighter job losses.
At the time of the cuts, the FBU warned that public safety would be at risk, but we were ignored. We said fewer firefighters working out of fewer fire stations would lead to more fire deaths - again we were ignored. In the last 18 months, we have seen fire deaths in the capital up by 20% before Grenfell, and response times in parts of London up by a third. We firmly believe this is due to the cuts to our service.
Despite our protests, the government continues to make cuts to the London Fire Brigade, on top of the £100m they have already slashed from our budget. We all saw the horrific scenes that unfolded at Grenfell, and we saw the brave men and women firefighters who fought that fire tirelessly.
In the aftermath of the disaster, we hoped the government’s attitude towards the fire service would change. Instead, two weeks after Grenfell, Tory MPs cheered on the front bench of the House of Commons as they voted to maintain the 1% public sector pay cap.
Never has there been more evidence of the disdain in which this government holds its public sector workers.