“It was a complete farce. All we could do was stand outside, panicking
because the fire was getting worse.”
THOSE WERE THE WORDS OF A LADY whose house burned down Saturday while a crew of replacement firefighters attempted to put out the fire during the first of two planned work stoppages by the FBU following the government’s decision to literally fire all 5,557 firefighters and break their contract effective November 11. Following a vote by the members, they approved the two job actions comprising a walkout for eight hours from 10 am to 6 pm on October 23 and November 1.
The first walkout took place Saturday and the Fire Brigade’s promise to maintain adequate coverage for the city failed to function. As we previously reported, the city took 27 engines and hid them away for this contingency and then pressed them into service Saturday using contract firefighters who had been given a mere 2 weeks training. The results were exemplified by Evridiki Spanos whose was quoted above. The Evening Standard reports:
Spanos made six 999 calls as smoke poured from their roof but had to wait about 20 minutes for privately-hired firefighters to arrive. A crew should normally arrive within six minutes. Mrs Spanos said the stand-ins — hired by the London fire brigade to provide cover during an eight-hour strike on Saturday — took a further 20 minutes to connect hoses to a street hydrant.When they did begin to tackle the electrical fire at their terrace home in Enfield, she claimed, they were unable to direct the water jets on target. “One stood at the front of the house and another at the back, but the two water arcs missed the fire completely,” said the department store worker, 49. “They were going over the top of each other, over the roof, not hitting the spot. It was a complete farce.
The fire was finally put out three hours later after the regular shift of firefighters came on duty at 6 pm when the walkout ended. The top floor and the roof were burned out.