London Fire Brigade has said that emergency firefighters underwent 'violence' and 'intimidation' during the eight-hour period of industrial action that took place in the city on October 23. In a statement released following the strike, LFB claimed that contingency fire crews suffered a number of incidents, including a hit and run on a fire engine involving three motorbikes, as well as barricades positioned across a station entrance.   

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: "I would rather the FBU had not orchestrated today's strike, but the contract, which was of course never designed to fully replicate the service delivered to London, has delivered.

"The most disappointing aspect of the day has been that the people responding to calls, because of this strike, have had to suffer abuse, violence and harassment as they tried to access fire stations or attend incidents."

According to figures released by London, 162 'contracted' firefighters were deployed on the day of the strike, with 27 appliances responding to 49 incidents, including several fires in residential buildings.

The Fire Brigades Union has responded to the claims with a statement of its own. FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: "London's 5,600 firefighters did the last thing they wanted to do - they went on strike for eight hours, leaving the capital without their expertise. It was an orderly, disciplined, but solid strike. Eight out of ten of them voted in the ballot, and of those, eight out of ten voted in favour of the strike. All of them supported it on the day."

While LFB's statement never directly implicates striking firefighters, Matt Wrack said: "One thing marred the day. London firefighters will be saddened that their Chief Fire Officer chose to come out with a series of unfounded accusations of violence against the men and women who work for him and for London."

The vote to strike was taken earlier on in the month, following a letter by the London Fire Brigade Commissioner which, according to the union, began the process of sacking the capital's 5,557 uniformed and 41 non-operational firefighters. A second strike is planned for November 1.

Posted October 25 2010