‘Strike cover’ fire engines to be returned to Poplar and Whitechapel stations

Two fire engines which have been unavailable to Tower Hamlets’ firefighters since last October will be returned to their stations today.

Poplar and Whitechapel fire stations had an engine withdrawn each by London Fire Brigade, thereby halving their engine numbers, last October.

That was to provide strike cover during an industrial dispute with the Fire Brigades Union which only formally ended on Friday.

The engines, along with 25 others across London, were handed over to a private company called AssetCo and were kept in a secret location.

Chris Boag, the union’s Tower Hamlets secretary, said: “We’ve been told that all 27 engines will be returned today.

“If they’re up to scratch we will have to wait and see because they have probably been sitting outside for a few months.

“This severely reduced fire cover across London and was always going to compromise the speed with which we could get resources to the right locations.”

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A LFB spokesman said: “We have always said that we would return the 27 fire engines as soon as practically possible after the FBU called off their industrial action.

“We have now received confirmation that their action has been called off and we are now in the process of returning these fire engines.”

An agreement was signed on Friday ending the dispute over shift hours and other working conditions.

A compromise arrangement of 10.5 hour day shifts and 13.5 hour night shifts was reached.

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