Nearly 40 fire engines unable to tackle London wildfires due to firefighter shortage, says union

·2-min read
Nearly 40 fire engines unable to tackle London wildfires due to firefighter shortage, says union

Nearly 40 London fire engines were unavailable to tackle wildfires on the busiest day for firefighters since the Second World War, according to a union.

Sixteen firefighters were injured tackling the blazes on Tuesday - the hottest day on record - with two admitted to hospital who were later discharged, London Fire Brigade (LFB) assistant commissioner, Jonathan Smith revealed.

The London branch of the Fire Brigade Union said in a statement: “Firefighters worked incredibly hard in unprecedented and arduous conditions and will continue to do so.”

The union said they had highlighted incredible staff shortages in London since December.

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“Yesterday was no exception with 39 fire engines unavailable for deployment due to simply not having enough firefighters.”

The union added they warned of the effects of climate change’s impact on modern firefighting and had rejected a “paltry” 2 per cent pay increase.

“All our firefighters deserve better. Every single one”, the letter signed by five bosses read.

It came as firefighter Dave Walton warned about the “brutal” conditions a stretched fire service faced on Tuesday.

He tweeted: “Crews were going from one incident to the next, to the next…it has been brutal.

“I’ve never known so many major incidents declared at a whole FRS (Fire and Rescue Service) level at once.

“I lost count at one point. It’s about a completely and fundamentally different operating environment where fires burn with such ferocity, and spread with such speed in suburban areas that you CAN’T STOP THEM.

“We’ve seen the kind of conditions faced by international colleagues just miles from our capital city, and in towns, villages and cities the length and breadth of the country. You can’t ask your neighbouring FRS for mutual aid when they’re just as busy as you are.”

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He added: “Today was about climate change, the hottest UK day on record - EVER! If you don’t believe in climate change ask a firefighter who has been on duty in the last two days what they think about it.

Sadiq Khan said the LFB had experienced its busiest day on record, receiving more than 2,600 calls throughout the day – seven times the usual number.

The London Mayor told Sky News: “Yesterday was the busiest day for the fire service in London since the Second World War.”

He added: “Yesterday they received more than 2,600 calls – more than a dozen simultaneous fires requiring 30 engines, a couple requiring 15, and some requiring 12.

“I’m afraid the bad news is, 41 properties were destroyed in London.”

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