Categories: Events

London Fire Brigade reflects on the London Riots 10 years on


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Today marks the 10th anniversary of the London riots – one of the busiest and most challenging periods in the history of the London Fire Brigade (LFB). Between Saturday, 6 August and Tuesday, 9 August, 2011, more than 5,000 emergency calls were received, averaging out at one every 48 seconds. London’s fire crews battled one blaze every nine minutes for five consecutive days. On an average day London Fire Brigade would receive around 500 calls and attend around 50 fires.

LFB reflects on lessons learnt post 2011 riots

  • Greater intelligence sharing for pre-planned or spontaneous events including public demonstrations working in liaison with London’s partners including the blue light services.
  • Improved forward mobilising tactics. This is where fire engines are moved into a temporary strategic location so that more resources can be sent quickly to an incident. During the London Riots, some fire stations were close to the rioting making it challenging to mobilise from. Moving firefighters to a central mobilising point early meant they were still able to get to fires. This approach has helped the Brigade at subsequent terrorist attacks and civil order offences.
  • Improved training relating to public order events for National Inter-agency Liaison Officers (NILO). During incidents NILO’s are a vital communication link between other agencies and the Brigade and are able to provide incident commanders with advice and support regarding the nature of specific risks and threats.
  • Having a greater voice within councils and community groups, enabling the Brigade to demonstrate the value in prevention work and seek for increased funding of Brigade youth programmes, which are aimed at reducing anti-social behaviour.

Tenacity, professionalism and bravery

London Fire Brigade’s Deputy Commissioner Richard Mills said: “The London riots showed the tenacity, professionalism and bravery of every member of staff who was on duty during those incredibly challenging days in the summer of 2011. The frontline could not have performed as well as it did without the incredible support from our 999 control officers fielding an unprecedented number of calls, our FLEET team making sure we had fire engines available and our staff ensuring vital equipment made it to the scenes to assist crews. 

“It once again proved, just as the recent pandemic has done, that London Fire Brigade has the ability to step up, adapt and never stop in its objective to help save life and protect property.

“At the time I was the Borough Commander for Haringey and like all officers at the time attended a number of the incidents over those days. Following the riots myself and other Borough Commanders listened to the community in order to better understand how we could serve them and what their expectations of the fire service were. We may not have always got it right in the past but I was, and remain, determined that the Brigade be a force for good. We want all of London’s communities to feel that London Fire Brigade represents them and be proud of the service we provide.”

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