Mayor Boris Johnson has rejected calls to reach a “compromise” over the fate of 13 fire engines which are due to be axed as part of budget cuts.
The engines were withdrawn from day-to-day service in August 2013 in order to ensure private contractors providing emergency cover during strikes had the equipment they needed.
With funding for fire services set to fall, Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson recommended axing them on the basis that their permanent absence could not adversely impact current response times.
However a majority of members on the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) backed an alternative budget which would retain the engines but move to single crewing at stations which operate specialist appliances such as aerial ladder platforms alongside a fire engine.
This would mean that either the engine or the specialist appliance could be deployed but not both at once.
Although a majority of those taking part in a public consultation favoured the alternative budget, Mr Dobson last month asked authority members to adopt his original proposal.
When a majority voted in favour of the rival plan, Mr Johnson used powers granted to him by the Labour Government’s 2008 GLA Act to overrule members and order them to adopt Dobson’s budget.
One Labour member of LFEPA has now written to the Mayor asking that he agrees to use a £9m underspend in last year’s fire budget to save “a number” of the engines.
Dr Fiona Twycross AM, Labour’s Leader on the Authority, said: “With unexpected money available due to underspends last year the Mayor has the chance to make the savings he wants whilst still saving some of the 13 fire engines. Ploughing ahead with the cuts when funding is available would be little more than vandalism.”
“Over the next year there will be a root and branch review of the fire brigade. It makes sense that we leave our options open and retain as many of these fire engines so there can be a calm and considered analysis of what is best for the fire brigade.
“Axing them now limits the fire brigade’s options and would seem little more than a ideologically motivated drive to make cuts”.
Mr Johnson has previously rejected calls to grant the engines a temporary reprieve and on Thursday his office told MayorWatch there would be no re-think.
A spokesperson said: “Fires and fire deaths in London remain at a record low as the London Fire Brigade continues to do an excellent job.
“In the two and half years since these 13 appliances have been held back from the frontline, response time targets have continued to be comfortably met.
“The savings achieved by their permanent removal will now allow more money to be invested in frontline officers, and help fund vital long term work to continue reducing the number of fires and deaths in the capital for many years to come.”