Firefighter attends fire in North London photo credit Guy Smallman

HMICFRS report confirms dangerous fire service fragmentation

Commenting on the latest assessments from HMICFRS, Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union general secretary, said:

“These reports confirm what we have been saying for years. HMICFRS is absolutely right, a decade and a half of localism and austerity has led to fragmented services and a postcode lottery of response times and crewing levels, leaving the public dangerously unsafe in some areas. Services are in urgent need of investment and overhaul and cannot rely on reserves for financial sustainability.

“Fire and rescue is a vital public service, which needs central oversight, national standards and structures and an urgent improvement to 999 response times. After Grenfell, we wrote to the Prime Minister outlining why fragmentation of the fire service is unsafe, yet worryingly our calls for change have fallen on deaf ears.

Women’s facilities

“In this day and age it is completely unacceptable that a lack of basic facilities is preventing women firefighters being recruited to some stations. We have been raising these issues for years, and it is worrying that women firefighters are frequently forced to use inadequate and ill-fitting Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and workwear uniform. A one-size-fits-all attitude is not acceptable – fire and rescue services must urgently address these concerns.

Response to terrorist incidents:

“From the start we have tried to discuss national proposals to expand firefighters’ roles to cover “marauding terrorist firearms attacks” (MTFAs). We have been willing to take the necessary steps to bring firefighters in to the aftermath of terrorist incidents, with the essential protections in place.

“Responsibility for the delay in resolving this rests entirely with fire service employers and central government who have been complacent throughout these discussions.

“In our view there needs to be much wider planning and preparation for such terrorist attacks. Every firefighter in the country needs to be trained and equipped for any incident they might be sent to.”

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