Equality & Equal Opportunity review: London Fire Brigade finds painful faults in their own organization
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"The report paints a picture of poor behaviour and painful experiences over many years. It highlights that women, Black, Asian and minority ethnic, LGBTQ+ and neurodiverse staff experience poor treatment and do less well in their careers".
The Independent Culture Review has been an internal examination of the culture at London Fire Brigade, chaired by Nazir Afzal OBE. Over a period of twelve months, he and his team heard from more than 2,000 current and former members of staff and community groups who shared their experiences of the Brigade. At the end of this period Nazir and his team wrote a report explaining their findings, which you can find in the link below.
"Commissioning the review was a recommendation of the internal investigation into the death of a firefighter on development, Jaden Matthew Francois-Esprit, who tragically took his own life in August 2020. Before Jaden’s death we knew there were long standing issues with poor culture and behaviour at the Brigade and we made many attempts to address these issues, but without success. We commissioned this review to give current and former staff and community groups a chance to give us their feedback on our culture, and get independent analysis so that we can improve", says London Fire Brigade on their homepage.
The Cultural Review covers many topics, including a chapter on Grenfell Tower. In the Introduction, The London Fire Brigade writes:
"London Fire Brigade (LFB) is one of the largest frefghting and rescue organisations in the world and deals with a high volume of serious incidents to keep the capital safe. These range from fres in the home, non-domestic building fres and arson incidents to responding to acts of terrorism and dealing with fooding and road traffc collisions. Firefghters also played a major role in the fght against Coronavirus, driving ambulances to assist London Ambulance Service and responding to Covid-19 deaths in the community.
Other major events that LFB have had to deal with in recent years include the Croydon tram crash, the Westminster terrorist attack and the Grenfell fire, which was the worst UK residential fire since World War II.
During this review, we saw many examples of bravery and dedication to public service. Whether this is the daily work of firefighters risking their lives to rescue people to fighting fires in extreme heat this summer, it made an enormous difference in communities across London and our review is rooted in a deep respect for the work of LFB staff. We have highlighted some of the most admirable elements of this, but our focus has been on those areas where improvement is needed and where toxic elements threaten to undermine the strengths of the Brigade."
Following the publication of the Independent Culture Review report, London Fire Brigade commits to taking immediate steps to end discrimination, harassment and bullying in their organization:
- A zero-tolerance approach to discrimination, harassment and bullying. Anyone accused of this behaviour will be immediately suspended and dismissed if the accusation is upheld.
- Introduction of a new external complaints investigation service so that staff can feel safe to speak up and cases will be handled objectively and confidentially
- Review of all our people-related processes to eliminate discrimination, including involving independent people to make immediate improvements where practical.
- Measures to make it much easier and quicker for staff to access help and support.
- A permanent shift in approach to leadership. It is the responsibility of LFB leaders to set and uphold high standards, so those leaders who do not value transparency, accountability and fairness will no longer have a place in the Brigade
"Following the publication of the Independent Culture Review report, we are taking immediate steps to end discrimination, harassment and bullying", says the report on London Fire Brigade´s home page.
"The changes below are just the beginning. We understand that significant change takes time and that we have a lot of work to do. As we develop our plans, we’ll share them here".
Photo Credit: A fire truck at London Fire Brigade, 2013. Wikipedia Commons License.
Date23 October 2013, 11:23