Fire Engine Maintenance Contract Changes Hands Again

Remember back in August, the news that a company in existence for just a month had bought the contract to maintain London’s fire engine fleet for the princely sum of £2? Colour us stunned*, but that didn’t work out.

Following a “deterioration of services” provided by Premier Fire Serve Limited, which used to be AssetCo and was bought by brand new company AB&A Investments, the body in charge of London’s fire brigade has pulled the contract, sending Premier into adminstration. (Intriguingly, the administrator called AB&A’s purchase “an unauthorised change of ownership“.)

The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority has now continued this fun game of musical contracts by appointing Babcock International to maintain the equipment for the next 18 months. Green Assembly Member Darren Johnson is clearly feeling the frustration and said

The sensible long term solution is to bring the contract in house and scrap the PFI arrangement. Many other fire authorities have a straightforward leasing arrangement. I hope that both the Mayor and the Government will see sense and recognise that the experiment with PFI has failed. We shouldn’t be taking financial risks with something so essential as our fire engines.

*not stunned

Photo by The Polstar from the Londonist Flickr pool

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  • http://twitter.com/andybrice Andy Brice

    I’ve never really understood the point of PFI. Governments can borrow money at far better rates than private companies, so why bother? I suspect it’s a way of effectively borrowing more and foisting the repayments on future governments, whilst keeping it off the public balance sheet.

    That said, it might be a good idea for an independent organisation to own fire engines, since it should be easier for the army to borrow them if there’s a firefighters’ strike.

    Babcock runs various public services (not always particularly well) but as an engineering company at their core, I expect they’ll be pretty good at looking after our fire engines.