Incidents of misogyny, racism and bullying have been uncovered by an unbiased report into the tradition on the UK’s largest firefighting and rescue organisation.
Feminine firefighters have been groped, overwhelmed and had their helmets crammed with urine, a evaluation of the London fireplace brigade has discovered.
Some male firefighters who visited ladies’s properties for security visits undergo drawers in search of underwear and intercourse toys, a feminine firefighter informed the report.
In a single incident logged within the report, a black firefighter had a noose put over his locker and in one other, a Muslim colleague had bacon and sausages stuffed in his pockets.
Nazir Afzal, the previous chief prosecutor who carried out the evaluation, has labelled the brigade “institutionally misogynist” because of the excessive quantity of complaints by ladies, which included fixed sexual taunting and abuse.
In some watches there seemed to be a deep resistance to ladies being firefighters, and senior figures defined that the method of male colleagues was to “deal with you badly and hope to do away with you”.
Afzal mentioned he hoped the evaluation can be a “turning level” so that each one firefighters might take pleasure in dignity at work and never must run a gauntlet of abuse from colleagues.
“The actions of some firefighters are bringing an awesome establishment into disrepute and these folks don’t belong in trendy public providers. Once I sit earlier than ladies explaining that they concern for his or her lives after they go to harmful incidents as a result of they must rely upon their colleagues, and it’s unattainable to do that when the identical colleagues deal with them like dust, then I despair,” he mentioned.
Afzal’s evaluation, accomplished with a staff of six specialists, has taken place over the previous 12 months, throughout which they’ve visited stations, gathered submissions and interviewed employees in any respect ranges. The report is predicated on the experiences of greater than 2,000 members of employees.
The evaluation was commissioned after the suicide of trainee firefighter Jaden Francois-Esprit, who was allegedly bullied.
“Jaden’s place was not distinctive. We now have spoken to others which are equally remoted and harbouring suicidal ideas,” Afzal mentioned. “It’s wholly unacceptable that public servants are being stripped of their dignity and this evaluation should be the start line to finish this poisonous tradition and begin constructing a extra supportive setting that values all employees. That might be a becoming legacy for Jaden.”
One feminine firefighter informed the evaluation that there’s a “banter” tradition that permits feminine firefighters to grow to be the goal of jokes.
“There can be some individuals who don’t perceive the character of bullying on this job.
“Your life is dependent upon your colleagues. You need to depend on them to get out safely and how are you going to try this when you already know they suppose so little of you and deal with you want dust?” she mentioned.
She mentioned she advises feminine mates to not enable male firefighters of their homes for fireplace security checks.
“I do know what they do. They undergo ladies’s drawers in search of underwear and intercourse toys. They’ll spend hours bragging concerning the dildo they discovered and confer with the ladies as sluts,” she mentioned.
The evaluation says: “We spoke to a black firefighter who had a noose put above his locker.
“We additionally spoke to a Muslim who was continuously bullied about his faith and had bacon and sausages put in his coat pockets and a terrorist hotline signal posted on his locker.
“On numerous events, tales of racial slurs being casually used had been associated to us by folks of color. At its worst, notably in relation to Muslim firefighters, this might present itself in fixed mockery, baiting and bullying. We heard from one firefighter who had been identified with PTSD in consequence.”
The evaluation accommodates 21 suggestions, together with the introduction of body-worn video by firefighters, a historic evaluation of complaints about racism, misogyny and bullying over the previous 5 years, and safe amenities for all ladies in stations.
Afzal and his staff carried out 250 interviews with former and present employees in addition to a dozen focus teams. Greater than 100 written submissions had been acquired and surveys accomplished by 1,672 staff.
Final yr, the London fireplace brigade attended greater than 100,000 callouts. There are 102 fireplace stations, which have 412 watches – the groups that function in shifts across the clock.
Greater than 4,500 of the 5,000 employees are firefighters, however solely 425 are ladies and simply over 500 are from ethnic minorities
The report, titled the Impartial Cultural Evaluation of London Fireplace Brigade, was commissioned following the demise of Jaden Francois-Esprit, a trainee at Wembley fireplace station who took his personal life aged 21 in August 2020.
An inquest final yr heard that Francois-Esprit believed he was being bullied at work due to his ethnicity. He was teased concerning the Caribbean meals he introduced in for lunch. He had made 16 requests to be transferred to a different station.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, mentioned the evaluation ought to be a “watershed second” for the London fireplace brigade and mentioned he supported the hearth commissioner, Andy Roe, in setting it up.
“The hearth commissioner is aware of he has my full help in making the numerous and essential modifications to root out all these discovered to be answerable for sexism, racism, misogyny, homophobia, bullying or harassment – and to help members of employees to talk out.
“A few of that work has already began with a brand new unbiased staff investigating complaints and a pledge to scrutinise firefighter interactions with the general public by way of body-worn video. However extra should be accomplished and at tempo,” he mentioned.
An announcement from LFB mentioned it might take instant steps together with piloting bodycams on firefighters conducting residence security visits, a zero tolerance method to discrimination, harassment and bullying, an exterior complaints service and a brand new Brigade-wide management construction.
The London fireplace commissioner, Andy Roe, mentioned: “Anybody accused of discrimination, harassment and bullying can be suspended following a danger evaluation, pending instant investigation and dismissed if the accusation is upheld.
“The report highlighted a insecurity within the brigade’s present complaints process and confirmed that employees didn’t really feel secure talking up. The Brigade is introducing an exterior complaints service whereas inner processes are improved. Workers will have the ability to use the service to report poor behaviour somewhat than having to report it internally,” he mentioned.
“This report highlights many points throughout the brigade, and it additionally highlights examples of fully unacceptable behaviour from a few of our employees when coping with the general public.
“These employees jeopardise not simply the belief positioned in us, however the security of those that now may be dissuaded from requesting our assist..”