London Fire Brigade (LFB): This and That

Greater London

Greater London

Greater London is about 600 square miles with an estimated 2015 population of 8,630,000.

As perspective, New York City has essentially the same population in roughly half the area.

The Brigade is staffed up with about 5,100 operational firefighters assigned to 103 stations.

They are not dispatched on emergency medical calls but could provide some basic life support if they ran across one.

They work two day shifts followed by two night shifts, then four days off.

The morning change is 9:30 and the evening at 8:00 to avoid overtime, I was told.

I talked to firefighters commuting anywhere from 20 minutes to 4 hours to work.

The 4-hour fellow came up to London for the whole tour.

Based on a small sample, they don’t transfer around often and can work their entire career at the same station, even the same group.

Minimum staffing seems to be either 4 or 5 on pumps, 4 on rescues and 2 on the tower ladders.

If the company is above minimum someone can be detailed out to fill a vacancy anywhere in the city.

All personnel are assigned portable radios.

Euston Rescue

Euston Rescue

Members are entitled to a one-week vacation in winter, a two-week vacation in summer and various other days off including public holidays for which you receive time-and-a-half if on duty.

I visited three stations: two with rescues,  two with tower ladders and two of the stations also had two pumps, each staffed with a crew of four.

Wembley Fire Station

Wembley Fire Station

Firefighters in the stations with rescues who are assigned to the pump are also rescue qualified and can “cross the floor” if need be.

Apparatus drivers are firefighters rotating through the position, changing each shift.

It was explained that company officers direct operations from outside and that something would have to be seriously amiss for them to enter the fire building.

The initial attack line is high pressure booster; there do not seem to be pre-connected larger lines; they are set up as needed.

Attack Lines

Attack Lines

The vehicles seem to be about 50% to 75% the size of rigs in North America where they are on steroids.

Obviously, there are some very narrow streets in Westminster and other areas.

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron is busy screwing over public employees and firefighters are not to be excluded.

Firefighter pension systems were unilaterally altered to require work until age 60.

Some members will be working 40 years in the field before being eligible to retire.

The firefighters I spoke with were welcoming and enthusiastic.

To finish, an amusing story.

I’ve met and worked with Fire Brigade Union (FBU) folks before including Matt Wrack, General Secretary and Andy Dark.

I inquired to the FBU communications staff about some ideas for visiting stations and perhaps their office.

They said, “ …I’m sure we can get on and try to find a station or two for you to visit, and I’m sure we can show you around HQ too.”

In the spirit of full disclosure, I sent along a link or two of recent IAFF posts.

The next response was, “Sorry, but having now spoken to Matt I realise that he’s on holiday all next week so will unfortunately be unable to meet with you. I am also very busy next week as we have two people out of four away in our department, so I can’t really spare any staff to look after you.  I hope you have a good time in London, and apologies for not being able to be a host during your trip.

Oh, well.








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