January 16, 2020

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‘Toxic culture’ in English fire services, according to new report

Fire services in England suffer from a “toxic” culture, with some firefighters not treating colleagues with “enough humanity”.

firefighterA new report, part of the first annual assessment of the country’s fire and rescue services by Sir Thomas Winsor, Chief Inspector of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, has uncovered what it claims to be a ‘toxic culture’ within fire services in England.

It has uncovered a series of bullying and harassment cases and inside some services and claims that some staff were ‘amused’ by the poor treatment of colleagues.

The statistics showed that 24% of staff said they felt bullied or harassed at work in the past 12 months, a number which rose to as high as 46% within one service.

Whilst acknowledging that the issues were found within ‘isolated pockets’ of services, the report said several female firefighters had been left ‘in tears’ when discussing intimidating behaviour by colleagues and a ‘lack of inclusivity’.

While praising “outstanding examples of culture” at some services, the Chief Inspector called for a new code of ethics for the sector to help tackle a “toxic, bullying” culture in some places.

“The fire sector refers to itself as humanitarian, yet firefighters in some services don’t treat their colleagues with enough humanity,” he wrote in his report.

This is the first time in more than a decade that a formal inspection into fire and rescue services has been carried out.

The report went on to urge building owners assist with avoiding ‘another Grenfell’, by removing cladding similar to that used on the tower.

Sir Thomas Winsor said it was ‘alarming’ that more than 300 building were still clad in the same material as Grenfell, more than two years after the fire.

In 2018, The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) promised to act over high levels of sexual harassment among staff after a report revealed the scale of the issue, while a study found that more than a third of UK doctors believe there is a problem with bullying and harassment in their workplace.

The report can be found in full, here.

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