I am sure FBU members across the UK will be weeping tears at the latest news regarding AssetCo. The firm, which owns the privatised fire engines in London and Lincolnshire has some commercial and financial troubles. The Guardian reports the bad news here. The Financial Times reports that shares are down to 36p – so if you’re looking to make an investment you should probably avoid this one. The article also includes the priceless comment from the London Fire Brigade that they have“no reason to expect any imminent service failure”. The idea that service failure, imminent or not, is even a possibility to consider as a result of movements on the stock market is staggering. The London Fire Brigade and Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service are emergency services – at least last time we looked. Their communities have the right to demand that their fire engines are available and are properly maintained – not reliant on the commercial prospects of a private company.
Some people have done very well out of these contracts. It is a scandal that individuals have been allowed to profit in this way from the privatisation of key parts of an emergency service. The AssetCo story should service as a warning to all who work in or may rely on the fire and rescue service. Privatisation does not work and should have no place in our emergency services.
We understand that AssetCo want to expand their ‘market share’ (as though people suffering the tragedy of fire is in some way similar to popping down to the local supermarket for groceries) by moving into training provision within the service – heaven help us! Let’s hope that politicians within the fire service take note although you can see here the case of one who probably won’t.