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Erith fire engine taken to provide skeleton service in case of strike action

PUBLISHED: 16:08 14 August 2013 | UPDATED: 16:08 14 August 2013

Erith has been temporarily stripped of a fire engine as brigade chiefs anticipate possible strikes next month.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is currently balloting its members over the possibility of industrial action regarding changes to pensions, with the results due to be announced on or soon after August 29.

The Erith engine is one of 27 taken from across London to provide a skeleton service in the event of a strike.

A London Fire Brigade (LFB) spokesman said the union had been asked for confirmation it would provide 21 days’ notice of a strike – and received no response.

He added that was the only reason the engines had been taken away before the ballot results were announced – but couldn’t say exactly what would be done with the engines over the next 21 days that couldn’t be done over a shorter period.

London fire commissioner Ron Dobson said: “This dispute is between the FBU and government, but as the national strike may involve London we have a legal responsibility to prepare for the possibility of strike action in September.

“This is not a decision I have taken lightly and I am not presuming the ballot will result in a ‘yes’ vote, but I need to ensure contingency plans are in place, which is why I’ve arranged for the temporary removal of 27 fire engines.”

All of the fire engines will come from stations with two appliances. For the time being, Havering’s four stations – Romford, Hornchurch, Wennington and Harold Hill – have at least one engine remaining.

An LFB spokesman said during a strike the 27 engines would be manned by contractors, and used to provide “basic firefighting and rescue work”.

Ian Leahair, the FBU’s executive member for London, said commissioner Ron Dobson was “being totally over the top” and “provocative by his actions”.

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