London Fire Brigade
London Fire Brigade Logo.png
Operational area
CountryEngland
CityLondon
AddressUnion Street, SE1
Agency overview[2]
Established1833; 189 years ago (1833)
Employees5,992
Annual budget£389.2 million[1]
CommissionerAndy Roe[3]
Facilities and equipment[2]
Divisions5
Stations102 plus 1 river station[4]
Engines142[4]
USAR14
Fireboats2
Website
www.london-fire.gov.uk Edit this at Wikidata

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) is the fire and rescue service for London, the capital of the United Kingdom. It was formed by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Act 1865, under the leadership of superintendent Eyre Massey Shaw. It has 5,992 staff, including 5,096 operational firefighters and officers based at 102 fire stations (plus one river station).[2][5][4]

The LFB is led by the Commissioner for Fire and Emergency Planning, a position currently held by Andy Roe. The brigade and Commissioner are overseen by the Greater London Authority, which in 2018 took over these responsibilities from the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA).[6]

In the 2015-16 financial year the LFB received 171,488 emergency calls. These consisted of: 20,773 fires, 48,696 false alarms of fire and 30,066 other calls for service.[7][8] As well as firefighting, the LFB also responds to road traffic collisions, floods, shut-in-lift releases, and other incidents such as those involving hazardous materials or major transport accidents. It also conducts emergency planning and performs fire safety inspections and education. It does not provide an ambulance service as this function is performed by the London Ambulance Service as an independent NHS trust, although all LFB firefighters are trained in first aid and all of its fire engines carry first aid equipment. Since 2016, the LFB has provided first aid for some life-threatening medical emergencies (e.g. cardiac arrest or respiratory arrest).[9]

History

The 1861 Tooley Street fire from Billingsgate
The 1861 Tooley Street fire from Billingsgate

Following a multitude of ad-hoc firefighting arrangements and the Great Fire of London, various insurance companies established firefighting units to tackle fires that occurred in buildings that their respective companies insured. As demands grew on the primitive firefighting units they began to coordinate and co-operate with each other until, on 1 January 1833, the London Fire Engine Establishment was formed under the leadership of James Braidwood, who had founded the first professional, municipal fire brigade in Edinburgh.[10] He introduced a uniform that, for the first time, included personal protection from the hazards of firefighting. With 80 firefighters and 13 fire stations, the unit was still a private enterprise, funded by the insurance companies and as such was responsible mainly for saving material goods from fire.

Several large fires, most notably at the Palace of Westminster in 1834[11] and the 1861 Tooley Street fire (in which Braidwood died in action, aged 61),[10][12] spurred the insurance companies to lobby the British government to provide the brigade at public expense and management. After due consideration, in 1865 the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Act was passed,[10] creating the Metropolitan Fire Brigade under the leadership of Eyre Massey Shaw, a former head of police and fire services in Belfast. In 1904 it was renamed as the London Fire Brigade.[10] The LFB moved into a new headquarters built by Higgs and Hill[13] on the Albert Embankment in Lambeth in 1937, where it remained until 2007.[14]

LFB firefighters at a warehouse in south London after a major fire in 1980
LFB firefighters at a warehouse in south London after a major fire in 1980

During the Second World War the country's brigades were amalgamated into a single National Fire Service. The separate London Fire Brigade for the County of London was re-established in 1948.[10] With the formation of Greater London in 1965, this absorbed most of the Middlesex Fire Brigade, the borough brigades for West Ham, East Ham and Croydon and parts of the Essex, Hertfordshire, Surrey and Kent brigades.[10]

In 1986 the Greater London Council (GLC) was disbanded and a new statutory authority, the London Fire and Civil Defence Authority (LFCDA), was formed to take responsibility for the LFB.[10] The LFCDA was replaced in 2000 by the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority.[15] At the same time, the Greater London Authority (GLA) was established to administer the LFEPA and coordinate emergency planning for London. Consisting of the Mayor of London and other elected members, the GLA also takes responsibility for the Metropolitan Police Service, Transport for London and other functions.

In 2007 the LFB vacated its Lambeth headquarters and moved to a site in Union Street, Southwark. In the same year, the Department for Communities and Local Government announced that LFB Commissioner Ken Knight had been appointed as the first Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser to the government.[16] Knight was succeeded as Commissioner at that time by Ron Dobson, who served for almost ten years. Dany Cotton took over in 2017, becoming the brigade's first female commissioner.[3]

Commissioners and chief officers

As of 1 January 2020 Andy Roe is the commissioner of the LFB. He succeeds Dany Cotton, who in 2017 had become the first woman to hold the top role; Cotton resigned in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire after 32 years' service in the brigade. Prior to Cotton, Ron Dobson was the commissioner and he had served in the LFB since 1979; he was appointed CBE for his distinguished contribution to the fire service.[17]

Organisation

London Fire Brigade headquarters from 1937 to 2007, in Lambeth.
London Fire Brigade headquarters from 1937 to 2007, in Lambeth.
The LFB's current headquarters since 2007, in Southwark.
The LFB's current headquarters since 2007, in Southwark.

Historically, the London Fire Brigade was organised into two divisions: Northern and Southern, divided in most places by the River Thames and each commanded by a divisional officer. Both divisions were divided into three districts, each under a superintendent with his headquarters at a "superintendent station". The superintendent stations themselves were commanded by district officers, with the other stations under station officers.[21]

On the creation of the Greater London Council in 1965, the brigade was enlarged and took over almost all of the Middlesex Fire Brigade, part of west Kent, North Surrey and South West Essex, together with the small County Borough brigades of Croydon, East Ham and West Ham.

The internal LFB organisation consists of three directorates that all report to the commissioner. They are:[22]

The LFB's headquarters since 2007 is located in Union Street in Southwark, adjacent to the brigade's former training centre, which was both the original headquarters of the Massey Shaw fire brigade and his home, Winchester House, as well as the London Fire Brigade Museum.[23] The brigade was previously headquartered in Lambeth between 1937 and 2007.

Performance

In 2018/2019, every fire and rescue service in England and Wales was subjected to a statutory inspection by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HIMCFRS). The inspection investigated how well the service performs in each of three areas. On a scale of outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate, London Fire Brigade was rated as follows:[24]

HMICFRS Inspection London 2018/19
Area Rating Description
Effectiveness Requires improvement How effective is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?
Efficiency Requires improvement How efficient is the fire and rescue service at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks?
People Requires improvement How well does the fire and rescue service look after its people?

Legislative powers

Fire and rescue authorities in England come under the government department formerly known as the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM). This department was responsible for legislation covering fire authorities; however, in 2006, a structural change to central government led to the creation of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), and subsequently the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). It is now responsible for fire and resilience in England, including London.[25]

The Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 changed many working practices;[26] it was brought in to replace the Fire Services Act 1947 and repealed several existing acts, many going back fifty years. The full list of acts repealed can be found here:[27]

The 2004 Act was drafted in response to the Independent Review of the Fire Service,[28] often referred to as the Bain Report, after its author Professor Sir George Bain. It recommended radical changes to many working procedures and led to a national firefighter strike in 2002–2003.

Further changes to the legislative, organisational and structural fabric of the brigade, which could include varying the attendance time, the location of frontline appliances and number of personnel, plus mandatory performance targets, priorities and objectives are set by the MHCLG in the form of a document called the Fire and Rescue Service National Framework. The framework is set annually by the government and applies to all brigades in England. Responsibility for the rest of the UK fire service is devolved to the various parliaments and assemblies. On country-wide issues, the Chief Fire Officers Association provides the collective voice on fire, rescue and resilience issues.[29] Membership is made up from senior officers above the rank of Assistant Chief Officer, to Chief Fire Officer (or the new title of Brigade Manager).

Staffing

Rank structure

Staff of the London Fire Brigade as part of the Pride in London 2016 parade.
Staff of the London Fire Brigade as part of the Pride in London 2016 parade.

London Fire Brigade, along with many UK fire and rescue services, adopted a change in rank structure in 2006. The traditional ranks were replaced with new titles descriptive of the job function.[30][31]

On 17 October 2019, London Fire Brigade announced a return to the traditional rank titles, in a policy named "Role to Rank".[32] The rank structure of the Brigade is now as in the following table:[33]

Rank title Rank markings
Firefighter
Capture FF insignia.jpg
Leading Firefighter
Leading Firefighter.jpg
Sub-Officer
Capture CM.JPG
Station Officer
Capture WM.JPG
Station Commander
Capture SM.JPG
Group Commander
(or Borough Commander)
Capture gm.JPG
Deputy Assistant Commissioner
Capture AM.JPG
Assistant Commissioner
Capture aco.JPG
Deputy Commissioner
Capture DCO.JPG
Commissioner
Capture co.JPG

Recruitment and training

In the last 24 months,[clarification needed] the LFB have run three firefighter recruitment campaigns, however in previous years have seen fewer or even none. There are many factors as to why they would run a recruitment drive, as there is actually no set recruitment drive for firefighters.[34] Professional firefighter training usually takes place at various London venues. On successful completion, the newly qualified firefighter is posted to a fire station to work on a shift pattern – currently two day shifts (ten and half hours), followed by two night shifts (thirteen and half hours), followed by four days off. Working patterns were the subject of scrutiny in Professor Bain's Independent Review of the Fire Service.[35]

After training school, firefighters serve a one-year period of probation; qualification and full pay are not reached until the candidate completes a development folder which usually takes around 12–18 months. Ongoing training – both theoretical and practical – continues throughout the firefighter's career.[36]

Shift pattern

In December 2010 the LFB and Fire Brigades Union (FBU) agreed on a new shift pattern for front-line firefighters: two 10½-hour day shifts then two 13½-hour night shifts followed by four days off.[37]

The agreement followed two 8-hour daytime strikes by the FBU[38] in protest at the LFB's intention to change the shift pattern from two 9-hour day shifts then two 15-hour night shifts followed by three days off, to two 12-hour day shifts then two 12-hour night shifts followed by four days off.[39]

A London Fire Brigade report published in March 2012 stated that the shift changes have improved safety in the city. Compared with the 12 months prior to the shift changes, the 12 months following them saw firefighters able to spend more time on training, community safety work, and home safety visits (including the free fitting of smoke alarms).[40]

Promotion

In order for a firefighter to gain promotion he or she must go through an assessment centre and reach the required standard set out by the Brigade. This process will be followed for each subsequent role the individual applies for, up to and including Assistant Commissioner. Appointments above the role of Assistant Commissioner are overseen by elected members of The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority.[41]

Some promotion exams can be substituted by qualifications from the Institution of Fire Engineers. Firefighters and civilians such as building inspectors, scientists, surveyors and other practising professionals, take these qualifications either by written test or research.

Future promotion exams will be set using the Integrated Personal Development System (IPDS).[42]

Firefighting, special services and fire prevention

This section needs to be updated. The reason given is: 11 year old data is almost irrelevant. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (February 2022)

In 2010/11, the LFB handled a total of 212,657 emergency calls, including 5,241 hoax calls (although it only mobilised to 2,248 of those malicious false alarms). During the same period, it dealt with 13,367 major fires. There were 6,731 dwelling fires, including 748 that had been started deliberately; 73 people died in 58 fatal fires.

In addition to conflagrations, LFB firefighters respond to "special services".[43]

LFB firefighters at a building fire; one uses an axe (right) to gain entry
LFB firefighters at a building fire; one uses an axe (right) to gain entry

A special service is defined as every other non-fire related emergency, such as:[44]

The full scope of the brigade's duties and powers is enshrined in the Fire and Rescue Act 2005.

Firefighters and, in some cases, specialist teams from the brigade's fire investigation unit, based at Dowgate, also investigate arson incidents, often working alongside the police and providing evidence in court. In 2008/09, deliberate fires accounted for 28% of all those attended by the LFB, a 28% reduction on the previous year.[45]

The other core duty of the brigade is to "prevent damage", and day-to-day fire prevention duties.

Firefighting cover

The LFB tackles a fire at an electrical substation in Sydenham.[46]
The LFB tackles a fire at an electrical substation in Sydenham.[46]

The LFB provides fire cover according to a system of four risk categories which have traditionally been used across the UK, where every building is rated for its risk on a scale from "A" down to "D". The risk category determines the minimum number of appliances to be sent in a pre-determined mobilisation.

Category "A" includes areas with a high density of large buildings and/or population, such as offices or factories. Three fire engines are to arrive at "A" risks within eight minutes, the first two within five minutes.

Areas with a medium density of large buildings and/or population, such as multi-storey residential blocks, will generally be classified "B" risk. Two fire engines will be deployed, with one to arrive within five minutes and the second within eight minutes.

Category "C" covers lower density, suburban areas and detached properties. One fire engine should arrive at a "C" risk incident within ten minutes. More rural areas not covered by the first three categories will be considered "D" risk. One fire engine should arrive at "D" risks within 20 minutes.

Response times

Damping down using an aerial ladder platform after a fire in Camden
Damping down using an aerial ladder platform after a fire in Camden

In 2007/08, the first fire engine mobilised to a 999 call arrived within five minutes 58.8% of the time, and within eight minutes 90% of the time. The second fire engine deployed arrived within eight minutes 81.9% of the time, and within ten minutes 92.4% of the time.

In 2010/11, the average response time of the first appliance to the scene was 5 minutes 34 seconds (6 minute target), and the second appliance was 6 minutes 53 seconds (8 minute target).[44]

In 2015/16, the average response time for the first appliance to the scene was 5 minutes 33 seconds (6 minute target), and the second appliance to the scene was 6 minutes 55 seconds (8 minute target).[7]

Mutual assistance

The Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 gives the UK fire services the ability to call upon other services or fire authorities in what is known as mutual assistance.[47] For example, the LFB played a comprehensive role in assisting Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service at the Buncefield fire in 2005. Much earlier, the Hampton Court fire of 1986, which was on the border with Surrey, was attended by both the LFB and Surrey Fire and Rescue Service.

In 2015/16 the LFB assisted at 567 "over the border" incidents.[8]

The other fire services that adjoin the LFB are:

The LFB also mobilises to support airport firefighters at London Heathrow Airport, London City Airport and The London Heliport.

Determining the size of an incident

London Fire Brigade attending an incident in St. Giles in December 2011.
London Fire Brigade attending an incident in St. Giles in December 2011.

The LFB, along with all other UK fire and rescue services, determines the size of a fire or special service by the final number of appliances mobilised to deal with it. For example, two appliances are despatched to a "B" risk area in response to a fire call in a residential house. The officer-in-charge can request additional appliances by transmitting a radio message such as, "make pumps four", or if persons are believed to be involved or trapped, "make pumps four, persons reported".[48] The control room will then deploy a further two appliances making a total of four. Informally, firefighters refer to such fires as 'a make up' or 'a four-pumper'; [49] when the fire is out, if no other pumping appliances were despatched, this would be recorded as a 'four-pump fire'.

If an incident is more serious, it can be escalated straight to a six-, eight- or ten-pump fire and beyond – in London this is usually completed in even numbers, though it is not uncommon for a ten-pump fire to be 'made up' to 15 if necessary. A call to, say, a large warehouse ablaze could be escalated straight to a ten-pump fire. The 2007 Cutty Sark fire required eight pumps;[50] as a serious incident escalates, the brigade deploys senior officers, Command Units and any specialist appliances required.

Examples of 25-pump fires include the blaze at Alexandra Palace in 1980,[51] and at the Royal Marsden Hospital, Chelsea in 2008, the latter also involving four aerial appliances. The King's Cross fire in 1987 was a 30-pump fire,[52] as was the blaze in numerous shops on Oxford Street in April 2007. The Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 was a 40-pump fire.[53]

Pumping appliances can only operate with a minimum crew of four, and a maximum of six (although this is rare) so it is possible to estimate the number of firefighters attending an incident by multiplying the number of pumps by five. For example, the Cutty Sark fire was described as "an eight-pump fire attended by 40 firefighters".[50]

Special services

Core services are paid for by London's council tax payers and through central government funding known as a grant settlement; each council tax payer's bill will include a precept – a specific part of their bill that contributes to the funding of the fire brigade. Those in need of the LFB's services in an emergency do not pay, but the brigade can provide additional special services for which it may charge where there is no immediate threat to life or imminent risk of injury.

Examples of these special services which may be charged for include the clearing of flooded commercial premises, the use of brigade equipment for supplying or removing water, and making structures safe in cases where there is no risk of personal injury to the public.

Safety and fire prevention

LFB firefighters and watch officers often visit residential and commercial premises to advise on hazard risk assessment and fire prevention. They also provide safety education to schools and youth groups. Each of the London boroughs has a central fire safety office that collates and coordinates fire prevention work in accordance with legislation, and they are supported by a dedicated team of specialist officers.

In 2010/11, the LFB made 70,016 home fire safety visits. Over 100,000 children are seen each year by the brigade's schools team. Around half of all serious fires occur in the home, and many house fires attended by the LFB no smoke alarm was fitted, despite the LFB fitting tens of thousands in homes every year.

Stations and equipment

Dowgate fire station in the City of London is home to the fire investigation team
Dowgate fire station in the City of London is home to the fire investigation team
Romford fire station
Romford fire station

As of 2014, the LFB has 103 fire stations, including one river station, across the 32 London boroughs and the City of London.[54] They are staffed 24 hours a day by full-time employees of the brigade, and are linked to a control centre in Merton.[55] This centre was opened in 2012; calls to it are fed from 999 operators at BT, Cable & Wireless and Global Crossing.

Central London stations can attend up to 8,000 calls per year, inner-city stations about 3,000 to 4,000 calls per year (these tend to be the stations that are busy serving the densely populated areas), and outlying or suburban fire stations may attend around 1,500 calls which include road traffic accidents, grass fires and house fires.[56]

LFB does not use retained firefighter, who live and work near their local station and are on-call.

Each station has four shifts, or 'watches': red, white, blue and green, with a Sub Officer (single appliance stations) or Station Officer (multi appliance stations) in charge of each. The overall management of the station falls to the Station Commander, who will also attend serious incidents, as well as spending time on call.

A group of one (City of London) to five (Tower Hamlets) stations within a borough are managed by a Borough Commander (Group Commander) who interacts strategically on a local level with the Borough Commander for the police and ambulance services and the chief executive of the local authority.

Stations and districts

Upon the founding of the London County Council in 1965, the new authority was organised into 11 divisions, of roughly 10 to 12 stations each, designated 'A' Division through to 'L' Division, dispatched by three 999 mobilising control rooms. 'A' (West End), 'D' (West London), 'G' (North West London) and 'J' (North London) mobilised from Wembley (the former Middlesex headquarters); 'B' (Central London south of the river), 'E' (South East London and Kent), 'H' (South London and Surrey) and 'K' (South West London south of the river and Surrey) mobilised from Croydon (the former Croydon County Borough headquarters); finally, 'C' (City and Inner East London), 'F' (East London including Docklands) and 'L' (North East London and South West Essex), mobilised from Stratford (the former West Ham County Borough headquarters). Each of these divisions were, to a degree, autonomous of each other and had their own divisional management hierarchy. This arrangement lasted until 1989 when the brigade was re-organised into the current arrangement.

The LFB is currently formed into five divisions: Northern, Eastern, Western, Southeastern and Southwestern. As of 2013, 21 fire stations were located in the Northern Division and have call signs prefixed "A"; 26 were in the Eastern Division with call signs prefixed "F"; Western Division consisted of 21 stations with "G"-prefixed call signs; 22 were under the Southeastern Division with an "E" prefix; and the remaining 22 were based in the Southwestern Division, call signs prefixed "H".[57] As part of this organisation, many stations were re-coded.

Below is a complete listing, as of 2014, of the 102 fire stations of the London Fire Brigade according to district and station radio callsign. The LFB is divided into five districts, each designated by a letter of the alphabet: the Northern District Command is designated as "A"; the Southeastern District Command is designated as "E"; the Eastern District Command is designated as "F"; the Western District Command is designated as "G"; the Southwestern District Command is designated as "H".[57]

Northern District

The Northern District Command is designated as "A" or "Alpha". There are currently 17 fire stations in the Northern District. The Northern District serves the following boroughs of London: Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey, Islington, the City of Westminster and the City of London.

Southeastern District

The Southeastern District Command is designated as "E" or "Echo". There are currently 19 fire stations in the Southeastern District. The Southeastern District serves the following boroughs of London: Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lewisham, and Southwark.

Eastern District

The Eastern District Command is designated as "F" or "Foxtrot". There are currently 23 fire stations in the Eastern District. The Eastern District serves the following boroughs of London: Barking and Dagenham, Hackney , Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets, and Waltham Forest.

Western District

The Western District Command is designated as "G" or "Golf". There are currently 21 fire stations in the Western District. The Western District serves the following boroughs of London: Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, and Kensington and Chelsea.

Southwestern District

The Southwestern District Command is designated as "H" or "Hotel". There are currently 22 fire stations in the Southwestern District, including the independent River Station, the quarters of the Fireboat. The Southwestern District serves the following boroughs of London: Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Lambeth, Merton, Richmond upon Thames, Sutton, and Wandsworth.

Appliances

LFB Dual Pump Ladder appliance
LFB Dual Pump Ladder appliance

All 102 LFB stations (not counting the river station) have a conventional fire appliance known as a dual pump ladder. Around 55 stations are also assigned one additional pump. Numerous other stations are home to a range of other specialist vehicles.

LFB Turntable Ladder appliance
LFB Turntable Ladder appliance

The stations that are assigned both a dual pump ladder and a pump are generally the busier stations receiving over 2,000 emergency calls (known colloquially by firefighters as "shouts") per year. They may also be stations of strategic importance, or those located in areas considered to be high risk. The remaining stations equipped with a single pump ladder generally attend fewer than 2,000 calls per year.

An earlier fleet of mostly Volvo vehicles was phased out, with some retained for training and reserve purposes, and replaced between 2002 and 2011 with new Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

In 2012, the LFB purchased five Mini Countrymans for conversion into instant response vehicles. The two-seat cars are fitted with six extinguishers (two each of water, foam and powder), plus a first-aid kit and defibrillator, and may be deployed to investigate automatic alarms actuating and smaller fires such as those in rubbish bins which do not require a full-sized engine and crew. The brigade has indicated a wish to add more smaller vehicles to its fleet, including crossover utility vehicles which could be fitted with water pumps, breathing apparatus and pull-out equipment drawers, and with enough space for four firefighters.[58]

LFB Command Unit
LFB Command Unit

In 2016, the LFB announced they would be replacing the older-generation (currently used) Mercedes-Benz Atego pump appliances with brand new Mercedes-Benz Ategos which include new features such as: an improved 'crew cab' for the comfort and safety of firefighters, new high-pressure hoses which can deliver twice as much water as previous models, a brand new electronically controlled pump, and a more economical and environment-friendly EURO VI engine, which will be compatible with London's low-emission zones. In 2017, 52 initial appliance orders are being rolled out across London ready for operational use, replacing the older 2002-2004 pumps, and later replacing the newer 2006-2008 pumps. The primary reason for the replacement of the older Ategos was due to their age (some being 15 years old) and poor economy.[59]

Fireflash, registered in 1999, is one of London's two fireboats
Fireflash, registered in 1999, is one of London's two fireboats
LFB Instant Response Vehicle (IRV)
LFB Instant Response Vehicle (IRV)

Improvements

The programme of improvements in staffing and equipment undertaken by the LFB since the September 11 attacks to improve London's resilience and its capability to deal with major emergencies, including the threat of terrorism has included: ten Incident Response Units; two Scientific Support Units; four different types of urban search and rescue (USAR) vehicles and ten USAR personnel carriers; three mass decontamination resilience units; and six equipment carriers known as Operational Support Units.[60]

Architecturally, fire stations vary in age and design from Edwardian era red-brick fire houses to modern spacious blocks complete with additional specialist facilities.[61] Early fire stations were originally built with horse-drawn appliances in mind and with traditional features such as the fireman's pole, used by firefighters to gain rapid access from their upstairs quarters to the fire engine garages below when summoned.

More modern fire stations, though constructed without such features, often have more spacious accommodation and facilities for staff of both sexes, public visitor areas such as community safety offices and other amenities. An example of these is the new fire station in Hammersmith which opened in 2003,[62] just a few hundred yards along Shepherd's Bush Road from the previous local fire station which had been constructed in 1913.[63]

Modernisation

In 2008, existing LFB facilities were deemed unsuitable to meet the demands of modern firefighting and training. The LFB had been training firefighters at its current Grade 2 listed building in Southwark since 1878.[64]

In response, the LFB signed a partnership contract with Babcock International Group PLC to provide firefighter training over the course of 25 years beginning in 2012.[64] Babcock is also the number one training provider to the Royal Navy, which includes firefighter training. The improvement program for firefighting training will introduce two new dedicated training centres and upgrades to 10 regional training centres. There will also be further improvements through additional computers and training facilities across many of the capital's 103 fire stations. The new firefighting training systems, supplied by Process Combustion Ltd, will have low environmental impact and will allow firefighter training to take place at night under simulated extreme conditions that firefighters will face on incident ground.[65] In addition to improving training facilities, Babcock's proposals will increase the amount of time available for firefighter training and save the LFB an estimated £66m over the next 25 years.[66]

Fire station closures

Sign in the window of Clerkenwell fire station reads "This fire station is now closed".
Sign in the window of Clerkenwell fire station reads "This fire station is now closed".

The creation of the Greater London Council in 1965 saw the number of LFB stations increase. The LFB absorbed some stations from the county brigades. At the time there were a handful of smaller brigades: Middlesex, Croydon, West Ham and East Ham – they were all incorporated into the LFB.[67] By 1965 the LFB had 115 stations, plus two river stations.

The LFB has an ongoing policy of upgrading existing fire stations, and building new stations to replace those that are no longer suitable for the requirements of a modern-day fire service.[68] In February 2010, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, officially opened the LFB's first new station in four years, at Harold Hill. The mayor hailed the station's exceptional environmental sustainability, calling it the "greenest station in the capital".[69] In the past two decades the total number of stations has reduced slightly, with the following permanent closures, including 10 in January 2014 as part of budget cuts:

Regional control centre

Main article: FiReControl

In October 2007, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) announced that the location for the new regional control centre, dedicated to the capital and part of the FiReControl project, would be at the Merton industrial estate in the London Borough of Merton.[76] FiReControl was however scrapped in 2010.

Major or notable incidents

The geographical area covered by the LFB along with the major transport infrastructure and the political, business and administrative bases typical of a capital city has seen the brigade involved in many significant incidents.

Major incident procedure

A "major incident" is defined as any emergency that requires the implementation of special arrangements by one or more of London's emergency services and will generally include the involvement, either directly or indirectly, of large numbers of people.[77]

Any member of any of the emergency services can initiate a major incident. Responsibility for the rescue of persons involved lies with the LFB. The care and transportation of casualties to hospital is the responsibility of the London Ambulance Service. Police will ease these operations by co-ordinating the emergency services, local authorities and other agencies.[77]

When a major incident is declared the services, along with civilian agencies, use a structural system known as gold-silver-bronze command that allows them to follow a set procedure for incident management. Put simply, gold relates to strategic control of an incident, silver to tactical command, and bronze to operational control. The term gold command can also relate to an emergency service building, mobile control unit or other base that becomes the focal point (often remotely) for the incident's management.[77]

Additionally, a major incident can lead to the government activating its coordination facility, known as COBR.

Notable incidents

Notable incidents, some declared "major incidents" and some in which firefighters lost their lives, where the LFB has played a significant role include:

The Grenfell Tower fire in 2017
The Grenfell Tower fire in 2017
Buncefield fire
After the initial call, the LFB mobilised three pumps, a turntable ladder and emergency tender at 2:18 a.m. Upon arrival, a station officer and firefighter from Clerkenwell station headed down into the basement where it was apparent a major fire had broken out. Both became trapped in the basement cellars and suffocated to death. Excessive heat, dense smoke and worsening conditions meant crews had to be rotated as frequently as every 15 minutes, as firefighters suffered from severe heat exhaustion.
Twenty-four hours later, with 800 oxygen cylinders used, the fire in the basement suddenly broke up into the first floor of the market, with flames seeping 100 feet (30 m) in the air, engulfing the entire market. The fire, although brought under control and reduced, was not fully extinguished for two weeks. Valuable lessons were learnt after the Smithfield blaze, including introducing a tally system of firefighters' locations and quantity of breathing apparatus.
On the 50th anniversary of the Smithfield blaze, in 2008, the then Deputy Commissioner of the LFB said: "This was a landmark fire in the history of London and its fire brigade. It is important that we remember this tragic fire and honour the memory of the two London firefighters who lost their lives."[112]

Notable exercises

This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (July 2016)

In popular culture

See also

References

  1. ^ http://moderngov.london-fire.gov.uk/mgconvert2pdf.aspx?id=2909[bare URL PDF]
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Coordinates: 51°30′12″N 0°05′55″W / 51.50335°N 0.09862°W / 51.50335; -0.09862