Crumbling Economy Leaving Fire-Rescue Destitute
BRITAIN'S NATIONAL FIRE SERVICE is running out of money, as are all the governmental entities in the once-great nation. As funds shrink, the fire service departments have been undergoing schemes like consolidation and further consolidation of the consolidated departments. Just recently it was announced that the already-combined fire-rescue departments in Scotland will be bunched into one national fire department.
Dispatch centers have been "centralized" with the result of calls for service coming from 50 or more miles away and the dispatch going to the wrong location. The London Fire Brigade – one of the world's largest fire departments – cannot afford to buy fire engines and is leasing 500 firetrucks from a private company, AssetCo. Now AssetCo is more than £8 million behind in its taxes and is facing liquidation as its stock price has dropped to 3 p. and other debts pile up.
Now it's the National Fire Service College that is adrift and broke. The 500-acre campus with extensive training facitlities for every type of emergency is unable to maintain its facility and the buildings are starting to fall apart. Aiding its deterioration was a decision several years ago permitting fire departments to utilize privately-run training programs at their discretion, removing the monopolistic franchise of the national academy.
National Fire Service College campus
Earlier this month the Communities Minister of the government, who oversees the Fire-Rescue Service, announced that the College will be sold to the highest bidder for the property. This has brought outrage from all corners of the public, especially the union representing the 70 employees of the college. BBC News is reporting today:
A report last year showed the government-owned site was "beset by debt and financial issues". Communities Minister Bob Neill said "disposal as a going concern" was the best option.
Philippa Childs, from Prospect, said: "The college is based in the middle of the Cotswolds, with training facilities considered to be the best in the world, but it's falling to bits. Government spending constraints have meant that no money could be spent on the infrastructure or recruitment, and staff have also faced a pay freeze."
Ms Childs (also) said: "Our members are worried about being transferred out of the public sector, not least because of the potential impact on their pay, pensions and other terms and conditions.
"It is also outrageous that a national resource such as this, which provides vital training to a key emergency service, should be privatised and thus subject to market forces which rely on making a profit in order to function."
Despite the widespread dissatisfaction with the decision, it has apparently been committed.
See also Guardian newspaper report on "London's fire engines may be sold off…" from last May HERE.
UK Fire Service College WEBSITE.
Also see Firegeezer postings from 2009:
"Let's Just Sell Off All the Apparatus" HERE.
"11 Fire Engines Burn Up in Britain" HERE, story of $2 million fire at unsprinklered building on Fire College Campus.
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