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Mark Hardingham, Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council said: “The NFCC is committed to supporting all aspects of the development of UK fire and rescue services, including culture and professionalism. The Independent Culture Review of London Fire Brigade contains disturbing and difficult information. We support LFB for recognising the need and commissioning this work as a positive step on a long, difficult but vitally important journey.
“We need to take the time to consider the report in full, but clearly the findings are wholly unacceptable of an inclusive, modern, blue light emergency service. I am clear that there is no place for harassment, bullying or discrimination in any fire and rescue service.
“I know that LFB has already accepted the recommendations in full – and, as they have communicated, will be taking immediate action in response, whilst also ensuring the long-term consideration of the cultural findings.
“We will be studying the report and its recommendations carefully and considering them in the context of every fire and rescue service in the UK. We have a clear Core Code of Ethics and equality, diversity and inclusion are woven throughout the standards, products and guidance we provide for fire and rescue services and will be redoubling these efforts. This will include looking at each of the report recommendations to consider how they will influence the future work of the NFCC.”
Following the review into culture at London Fire Brigade, the NFCC wishes to highlight some of the national products available to support the fire sector, developed in collaboration with UK fire and rescue services, through the NFCC People and Leadership Programmes.
These products were developed to help address the transformational changes identified in the NFCC People Strategy 2017 – 2022, to support a positive working culture through inspiring leadership, and embedding equality, and diversity, and inclusion throughout the sector. All products are designed for all staff in the fire sector, no matter the role, contract type or location.
‘Fit for the Future,’ will continue to support the development of future national products with the fire sector through the NFCC People, Culture and Leadership 2023-26′ Work Plan.
The Fire Brigades Union has released an initial statement in response to the London Fire Brigade Independent Culture Review.
Gareth Cook, Fire Brigades Union regional organiser for London, said:
“There are elements of this report which confirm concerns raised by the Fire Brigades Union over many years. There are also elements of the report which will cause considerable concern and alarm. We will need to study those areas carefully and respond more fully.
“The review highlights that morale and engagement in London Fire Brigade are low – 40% are frustrated in their job. Staff shortages, poor workforce planning, no leave availability, poor work-life balance and low recognition are cited. The review also finds there is a need for increased trauma specialism and mental health awareness. For us these findings of poor morale and a need for better mental health structures are highly linked.
“The review also acknowledges the pay restraints placed on our members through years of pay neglect.
“The review has found that staff fear the consequences of speaking out as they fear the repercussions. That is entirely unacceptable and must change.
“Our rules and policies require every FBU member to treat others with dignity and respect and to challenge offensive behaviour of any kind. The union is committed to equality. We campaign against all discrimination by gender, race or ethnicity, sexuality, age, disability and religion or belief. We have a long record of campaigning on such issues.
“However, we have raised concerns about many of the issues contained within this report historically and as a consequence we remain sceptical about the changes senior leaders will implement with regards to their own behaviours.
“The London region of the FBU is committed to working to address these serious concerns. We aim to improve the working conditions of our members and protect them from discrimination and unfair or illegal treatment by representing them in the workplace. We are committed to building strong relationships between firefighters and local communities in all their diversity.
“We have only very recently received this report and will continue to review it, as we look to build a full and detailed understanding of it.”
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