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Ashamed of the LFB, but Wishing Them Luck

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I am amazed that this report hasn’t featured on this site yet as its headlining the main TV news agencies all day.

LFB’s Commissioner has received an independent review report into bullying and related behaviour in the LFB following the suicide of a FF after he complained of being bullied. It does NOT make for comfortable reading.

I won’t list it all on here as the link is provided above

I have been out of the fire service many years but have been working alongside the LFB until a year ago. I joined in the 1970s - a different time than now in the UK where things that would be 1005 racist where accepted. This ranged from TV shows and entertainment to colloquialisms such as “going down the Paki shop”.

I apologise about using that P word, but its important to paint a picture of how society was then.

I recall the first women joining the job in the 80s and the first black FFs. I know many had a rotten time and I take my hat off to all of them as they had to work twice as hard as any white male FF just to achieve the same standard - ie to fit in on the watch ASAP.

And not just recruits. I was a Sub Officer years later and another watch had a female LFF acting up to Sub O coming in for a while. This was a one pumps station with Sub O in charge. At the end of her first day I asked “How is she doing?” as the first bit of temp promotion in charge can be daunting.

Her excited T/LFF said “She is useless” and went on to describe how she “couldn’t even reset an AFA panel earlier”. I recall thinking it was harsh criticism as its not even a LFB responsibility. So even at this point with several years in, this female was having to prove herself more than I would

Fast forwarding many years and we had many more FFs on the stations from minority groups and the all white boys club was fragmented and looked like history. Even when I retired, I had a conversation about the LFB’s excellent counselling service had been helpful after a nasty job and how years ago there was a lot of resistance from the boys club about these ‘do-gooders’

So now, almost 18 years after I left station life I read this BBC version of the review and listened to The LFB Commissioner and author of the report on Radio 4 this morning

I know the media have picked the most salacious bits to report and I have seen on social media loads of denial stories from former white boys club members who cast doubt on the review’s authenticity (even though its chaired by a former DPP) but I still feel the same as I did last night when I first read the story:

Ashamed and very disappointed.

Ashamed that this is still going on and people’s lives are suffering - these are operational colleagues

Disappointed the LFB havent grasped this issue and dealt with it before now

I love banter and have a wicked sense of humour. I use it often as it was essential in the LFB days and beyond, and sometimes get it wrong. But some of the ‘banter’ that is reported in the media is not fun, its callous, illegal harassment and possibly assault. There is no place for it in any workplace and never has been, not even in the 70s

Good luck to Andy Roe and the entire LFB and I hope he deals with it asap. He has said about retraining, body worn cameras on HFSV and outsourcing some of HR from Monday! But I think the best thing about the job are also the worst

The job security is brilliant but can lead to laziness and a sense of entitlement

And the strong bond within the team also puts off complaints - even justifiable ones as you would be seen to be grassing one of your own

The full list of recommendations will be released on Monday. Lets see what they are

But finally I fear the detrimental effect on recruitment from minority groups as many may now think twice.

Knowing the great work of this site with potential fire service trainees, I would like to appeal to all of you either thinking about joining up or in the process.

Please do not be put off by this report. Its clearly been tough for some but not all staff from certain groups. But now its in the open and the LFB will be joined by other fire & rescue services in dealing with this problem. You could say, there has never been a better time to join

Good luck

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I’m fuming about it, having read the report in full it’s clear that whether you have seen these things happening or not, these things have happened to the people we work with and the perpetrators have in most cases evaded any credible consequences.

I could write down on a piece of paper now who on my watch won’t accept this report, be angered by it and will feel victimised by its very existence because it’s calling people like them out. I really hope there is some weight to this zero tolerance the Chief is talking about, get a few P45’s on these jokers door mats and then we’ll see who the pack want to follow. Good riddance.

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