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Terror response hit by Tory cuts

Firefighters warn Johnson’s axe stretches 7/7 capacity

FIREFIGHTERS would be hard-pressed to cope with another July 7-style terrorist attack in London after the city has been ravaged by Boris Johnson’s cuts, unions warn on today’s 10th anniversary of the atrocity.

David Cameron marked the anniversary of the attacks that claimed 52 lives with the promise: “We will keep on doing all that we can to keep the British public safe.”

More than 700 injured and trapped Tube and bus passengers needed emergency medical attention and firefighters’ help in escaping the traumatising scenes.

London Fire Brigade bosses claim that firefighters are well prepared in case of any more attacks.

But the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said that the cutbacks imposed the PM’s Tory stablemate London Mayor Mr Johnson have shed 800 firefighters.

Ten fire stations have been closed down in London and 14 fire engines were taken out of service. This only imposes more strain on staff members that are already under intense pressure to save lives, the union said.

FBU London secretary Paul Embery, said: “The massive cuts have impaired our ability to respond to all kinds of incidents.

If there were a terror attack, our resources would be more stretched.

“To say we are better prepared is just not true, and it is grossly misleading to the public who are being encouraged to feel safer when they are not.”

The LFB needs investment, not more cuts, to deal with the growing terrorism threat trumpeted by Home Secretary Theresa May, he added.

Mr Embery also warned that radios issued to firefighters don’t work underground despite claims made by fire chiefs.

An inquest into the July 7 attacks found that a lack of radios hindered emergency workers’ ability to communicate with each other and delayed rescue operations.

A spate of blazes on Saturday night illustrated the crisis brought on by Mr Johnson’s short-sighted choices. For one fire in Kentish Town, north London, fire crews rushed in from as far as St Paul’s Cathedral and Hendon, taking 13 minutes to arrive despite an official target of three minutes.

Response times would have been greatly reduced if Belsize Fire Station, just around the corner, had not been closed last year after 100 years of service.

Labour London Assembly fire spokeswoman Fiona Twycross also blasted Mr Johnson for his “savage cuts” that further threatened the lives of those in danger.

She said: “As a result fire engines response times have increased across the capital, leaving Londoners waiting longer in life-threatening situations.

“There is no doubt that, as a result of Mr Johnson’s cuts, the fire service has much less capacity to deal with major incidents.

“With Boris already mooting another round of cuts it’s clear he has little regard for the strain our emergency services are facing.”

Also, workers in London’s 999 control centre have to work excessive overtime to cover chronic short-staffing.

Fire and rescue services across Britain have seen 7,000 firefighter jobs go since 2010, along with 39 stations.


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