Responding to the third tranche of inspections from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary, said:
On the national view
“This tranche of reports is a complete indictment of the government’s dangerous complacency over the risk of fire, flooding, and other hazardous incidents. Austerity has ravaged our fire and rescue service, leaving residents in many areas at risk. In Gloucester, the inspectorate is clear that changes are needed ‘urgently’, but politicians and fire service management elsewhere must not rest on their laurels.
“With no national standards and no national infrastructure coordinating fire and rescue service policy, residents inevitably face a postcode lottery of fire safety.
“While fire service bosses must be responsible for any failings, so too should the politicians who have starved them of funding, resources and boots on the ground. Our service is collapsing – it’s plainly unsustainable.”
“The inspectorate's verdict that London Fire Brigade’s senior management has been slow to learn from the Grenfell Tower tragedy will make worrying reading for firefighters, who have faced unfair criticism while others, including those in government, have not been held to account. It will also be deeply concerning for the Grenfell community and all of London.
“Grenfell must be a turning point for UK fire safety – anything less is completely unacceptable. The inquiry’s vital recommendations must be implemented quickly in London, but they also must be implemented in every fire and rescue service in the country.”
On equality and culture
“It’s shameful that not enough is being done enough to improve equality and diversity in our service. Progress has all but flat-lined under this government - and a severe lack of recruitment and the scrapping of equality targets is largely to blame. We need to recruit more firefighters – and we need to make sure they reflect the communities they serve.
“We are also deeply concerned about toxic bullying and harassment from management in many fire and rescue services. Firefighters give their all to keep the public safe – it’s disgraceful that certain fire service bosses have thanked them with intimidation. We urge any firefighter affected to contact their FBU representative.”