The Metropolitan Police is to be given the responsibility for fighting fires under a secret plan drawn by advisors to London mayor Boris Johnson, Londonist can reveal.
The move will see the riot squad tasked with putting out blazes in areas of the capital including Knightsbridge, Woolwich, Clerkenwell and Bow.
A source close to the mayor, who Londonist met down the pub, described the move as “A whopping great cost saving, of the sort decent hard-working Londoners will bloody well like”.
Observers had been mystified by the mayor’s support for police plans to buy water cannon – even though he described the prospect of them being used as “vanishingly unlikely”. The move was especially baffling in a week when budget cuts have forced the closure of 10 fire stations in London, with the loss of 14 fire engines and more than 550 fire fighters.
Today’s news seems to make sense of what would otherwise seem to be a pair of bizarre policy decisions, however.
The mayor’s plan will see the Met using its new toys to aim highly pressurised jets of water into burning buildings, thus extinguishing fires.
The process can sometimes result in quantities of steam being released into the atmosphere – a phenomenon experts refer to as “kettling”.
The mayoral insider continued, “With London’s extensive network of police facilities to work with, the city doesn’t need fire stations anyway. Firemen and riot police all just sit around waiting most of the time. Might as well scrap one lot and give the other something to do”.
He added: “Anyway, giant hoses are fun. Wahey!”.
The plan has not won universal approval, however. Green party Assembly Member Darren Johnson questioned whether giving the Met access to large water jets might lead to increased flood risk in affected areas.
Tooting’s Labour MP Sadiq Khan added, “I would also like to be quoted in this story”.
This is not the first time that London’s government has merged the activities of disparate organisations in the hope of finding cost savings.
Moves to replace the Bakerloo line with Serco have so far not made it past the planning stages. But responsibility for the city’s housing policies was outsourced to the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England as far back as 1938.
Water cannon have on occasion been known to dislodge people’s eyeballs.
Photo courtesy of Chris John Beckett, taken from the Londonist Flickr pool