London Fire Brigade placed in ‘special measures’

Move made after report revealed widespread racism and sexism within the organisation, reports Joe Talora, Local Democracy Reporter

London Fire Brigade
credit London Fire Brigade

London Fire Brigade has been placed into “special measures” following a damning report which found evidence of institutional misogyny and racism.

His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services announced on Wednesday that London Fire Brigade (LFB) would be subject to “an enhanced level of monitoring” following the review carried out by Nazir Afzal which found “deep seated” problems throughout the service.

It comes just six months after the Metropolitan Police was placed into a form of special measures by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary following a series of damaging scandals.

HM Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services Matt Parr said the LFB’s move into enhanced monitoring would mean that inspectors will examine it’s plans for improvement “more frequently and more intrusively”.

He said: “We should recognise that London Fire Brigade’s recent cultural review was commissioned by the brigade, whose leadership has accepted its findings without reservation.

“However, it is clear that the behavioural problems we highlighted earlier this year are deep seated and have not improved. The engage process provides additional scrutiny of the brigade’s plans, and support for them from across the fire sector.”

The review into the culture of the London Fire Brigade was launched following the death of 21-year-old trainee firefighter Jaden Francois-Esprit who killed himself after he was subject to racist bullying at his Wembley Fire Station.

Among the shocking findings of the review were accounts of firefighters leaving a noose on the locker of a black colleague, a Muslim firefighter having pork sausages stuffed into his pockets, and female firefighters being subjected to sexual harassment and misogynistic bullying.

London Fire Commissioner Andy Roe said: “I recognised that LFB’s culture needed to improve which is why I commissioned the independent culture review and took immediate actions when it was published last month. Our external complaints service is supporting colleagues and a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination, harassment and bullying means all staff know what behaviours aren’t tolerated.

“Change is happening now and from the face to face meetings I’ve been having with firefighters and other staff shows there is a passion to make sure our culture works for everyone. We welcome the additional support as part of the Inspectorate’s enhanced monitoring programme and I look forward to working with them and other partners to monitor progress and change in the future.”

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