Saturday 16 October 2010

The truth about the FBU

It is politically unacceptable to criticise the emergency services. They are the public service equivalents of Nelson Mandela. This is why the London fire authority (LFEPA) have been so careful in how they communicate the planned changes to shift patterns, which are at the heart of planned strikes by the FBU.

While praising the work of London's firefighters, LFEPA have attempted to outline why they want a 15 hour night shift and a 9 hour day shift changed to two 12 hour shifts, with the same amount of down time, through carefully talking about making London safer, being more efficient and boosting training time.

All these are fundamentally sound reasons to revise working practices that are over 30 years old. Of roughly 5700 firefighters, 2700 live outside greater London while 1886 have second jobs. Unbelievably some of London's firefighters live as far away as Northern Ireland. No wonder changes to working practices might be a tad inconvenient.

There are fewer fires in general and thankfully fewer serious fires fought each year. Firefighters also need to be highly skilled in an increasingly diverse set of tasks beyond putting out fires. As terrorism continues to be a very real threat to the UK and, as we prepare for the 2012 Olympic Games, it is essential that all our emergency services are world class in every regard.   

It is disappointing then to see the Labour Party blame Boris Johnson for the forthcoming strikes and read that there are many different reasons being cited for the proposed strikes.

What hasn't emerged so far is that the higher echelons of the FBU are in a bitter power struggle, with London's firefighters - and Londoners - now caught in the middle. The leadership are using this dispute to position themselves in the FBU rather than try to reach a resolution that will make London a safer city. Tactics such as intimidation and anonymous phone calls have been used against their opponents - there has even been reports of people receiving death threats.

While politicians are rightly careful in what they say with regard to our much valued emergency services, it is time people realised not all of them are as saintly as we would hope.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment and I will be interested in what you have to say.