Watchdog highlights London Fire Brigade 'toxic' culture as report reveals concern

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London Fire Brigade still requires improvement according to inspectors after not making enough progress since the service was last scrutinised.

A watchdog report said the Brigade responded well to the recent heatwave, but found firefighters are not all trained to respond to terrorist incidents and need to do more to keep people safe.

The report also highlighted a “toxic” culture and poor performance on factors including fire prevention fairness and diversity.

'Issues need urgent attention'

Inspector of fire and rescue services Roy Wilsher said: “We have continued to see a general positive shift in services prioritising protection.

“The sector needs to continue this focus so the public can experience long-term safety benefits. This must include sustained Government funding to make sure the number of competent fire protection staff continues to increase.

“However, our second round of inspections has continued to identify issues that need urgent attention.

“It’s troubling that some services have failed to act on the causes of concern we issued in 2018 and 2019.

“Worryingly, too many services don’t prioritise fire prevention activity enough – this is crucial for public safety.”

Tam McFarlane, the Fire Brigades Union national officer, said: “Firefighters will all tell you the same thing: cuts to resources mean that fire and rescue performance is declining rapidly.

“It’s particularly shocking that eight of the 15 services inspected don’t have enough fire protection staff to carry out vital fire safety work and that services are over reliant on overtime to provide operational response, a direct impact of the cuts made to funding and firefighter jobs.

“These reports also make it blatantly clear that there are serious issues when it comes to the management culture of fire and rescue services.”

A spokesman for mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “The mayor welcomes the findings of the new HMICFRS report and is satisfied that the brigade and commissioner recognise the scale of the task at hand, are open to change and committed to delivering the improvements needed.”

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