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Isle of Wight Fire Crews Not Happy Bunnies

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With lay offs and a number of firefighters laid off due to new fitness tests - the mood on the Isle of Wight is anything other than sedentary - In fact the industrial relations here seems a bit angry and not the sort of peaceful atmosphere one associates with this sleepy retirement/holiday island .

So when management asked - told - retained fire crews to give up their weekend to attend a major exercise, 11 out of 13 retained pumps came off the run

More here.


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Whether it was all but 2 or all RDS pumps (as I read elsewhere) that booked off,  it was obviously an organised protest which shows the level of disgruntlement the crews there feel with their service management.  It also means it was unlikely that the service had not got wind of it beforehand and yet seemingly did little to reduce tensions.  Getting large proportions of RDS crews to give up a large chunk of their weekend to attend an exercise was always going to need careful organisation and significant RDS input.  Trying to demand attendance with no consultation as seems to have been the case here was either managers trying to flex muscles and further their careers or managerial incompetence or possibly both since it backfired so spectacularly. 

It also seems to have been well handled by the RDS, who spotted a chance to make a point without totally risking fire cover since management had organised limited standby cover from Hampshire for the duration of the exercise.

Lets hope it brings results in the form of a more consultative and collaborative approach where managers recognise that RDS have other jobs, other lives and that the huge commitment they give does not extend to simply dropping everything because a couple of senior managers want an exercise at a particular time.  Most of us RDS will be flexible, hell I have gone on a familiarisation visit at 1am for my service as it was the only feasible time, but we don’t like to feel we are being bossed about on the whim of a senior manager for no good reason.

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There are many on the Island that are against the proposed merger with Hampshire but you would of thought that any improvements, i.e. training, equipment would be welcomed and I think some of them stems towards this too.  They have been on the backside for years over there and I don't think they have been treated well in the past but there has been many improvements over the last few years and things are slowly turning around over there.  

I can see why they have done what they have and I don't know weather they were consulted for the exercise but you would think there would have been some consultation with such a large exercise?

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Clearly there are significant issues there and I have no doubt that this exercise was simply a straw that both broke the camel’s back and provided an easy and relatively risk free way to make a point.  My experience of 19 years plus in the RDS is that it only takes one manager with the wrong attitude and they will quickly stoke up bad feeling, even over improvements.  You get to know the type, coming in with no prior experience of RDS but plans to change everything as the RDS system is broken / unprofessional / inept and they know how to fix it.  My attitude is usually to just smile sweetly and carry on as normal, they will normally have moved on in six to nine months and I will happily wait it out although as I get older I find myself getting less tolerant of their ways. 

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TBH, given that most of the fire cover in the UK is RDS, you would have thought LA would bend over backwards to keep RDS happy, reduced council tax, shoe up the housing list nearer to station etc,

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