London to Be Guarded by AssetCo, 27 Trucks If Firemen Ballot for a Strike

A private company, AssetCo Plc, will fight fires in London armed with 27 fire engines if the Fire Brigades Union goes out on strike.

The results of an industrial-action ballot by the union’s 5,500 London members will be revealed by 3 p.m. tomorrow, according to a union spokeswoman, Helen Hague.

The London Fire Brigade has withdrawn 27 trucks from service out of 160 as part of contingency plans, according to spokesman Sam Spindlow. The brigade can’t call on members of the military as it did in the last strike in 2002 and 2003, he said.

“This is not a decision that has been taken lightly and even at this late stage I am urging firefighters to consider the effects strike action might have,” London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said today in an e-mailed statement. “London’s fire authority has a legal duty to provide a fire and rescue service at all times.”

In July 2009, AssetCo was awarded a five-year contract to supply emergency service to the brigade of up to 700 staff. The South Ruislip, England-based company already owns fire and rescue vehicles at 111 of the brigade’s stations.

Hague wouldn’t talk about the union management’s plans if it is authorized for action. The emergency arrangements are designed to provide “an acceptable level of contingency cover” in a strike, the Brigade said.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Altaner in London at daltaner@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Colin Keatinge in London at Ckeatinge@bloomberg.net

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