CORBYN ATTACKS GOVERNMENT’S LACK OF ACTION A YEAR AFTER GRENFELL

Jeremy Corbyn has accused the Government of failing to learn any lessons in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, despite the first anniversary of the disaster next week.

Mr Corbyn told the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) annual conference in Brighton: “People are still angry about the Government’s failure to act. Where is the necessary overhaul of fire safety regulations that is so clearly needed? Where is extra funding for the Fire and Rescue service? Where is the action on dangerous cladding on other buildings? After the Lakanal House fire the 2013 coroners’ report recommended sprinklers be installed in tower blocks; this government failed to act. But even now in the wake of 72 dead at Grenfell they still ignore the advice of the Fire Brigades Union.”

Of the firefighters who responded to the inferno, the Labour leader said: “Those men and women who went into that building to save lives are heroes as are all firefighters who regularly go above and beyond in order save lives.

“This is not to say that lessons cannot be learned from events at Grenfell as lessons can always be learned. But it is impossible to see how any improvements could ever be made without a consistent and genuine commitment to fire safety, fire prevention and a fully staffed fire service to be there when we need it.”

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “We wholeheartedly welcome Mr Corbyn’s comments. He understands the issues and challenges facing firefighters and the fire and rescue service – a refreshing change for a politician on the national stage. Corbyn, like us, wants to see justice for the 72 people who died in Grenfell Tower, as well as the dozens who were injured and made homeless. He wants to ensure that a disaster like this never happens today. The government’s inaction a year on from Grenfell is deafening.”

The Labour leader received two standing ovations from delegates.

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FIREFIGHTERS’ UNION WIN LEGAL BATTLE TO HAVE 96 HOUR SHIFT SYSTEM DECLARED UNLAWFUL

A High Court has today (25 May) ruled in favour of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) as it declared a duty system requiring firefighters to work 96-hour shifts as unlawful.

 

The case centred on a duty system operated by South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service known as close proximity crewing (CPC) but the judgement could affect dozens of fire and rescue services that operate similar shift systems.

 

The judgement, made by the Honourable Justice Kerr, was handed down at Manchester High Court and stated that: “CPC in the form used in South Yorkshire does not and cannot operate in accordance with (Working Time) regulations.”

 

Justice Kerr concluded: “I do not see how the CPC system as it exists at the four fire stations in South Yorkshire, can operate lawfully in compliance with regulation 10.”

 

Of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority’s actions, the judgement states that: “the illegality is continuing and there is a concerted plan [by the respondent] to continue the unlawful conduct”. It went on to say: “I am troubled that the stance of the Authority and the Service offers an affront to the rule of law”.

 

Andy Dark, assistant general secretary of the FBU, said: “This was an important ruling and a tremendous success for the FBU. A number of fire and rescue authorities have been operating this duty system at a small number of fire stations around England and Wales. It is inconceivable that any Chief Officer or fire and rescue authority would have in place arrangements which mean that firefighters could be mobilised to deal with incidents having already spent up to 96 hours on duty.

 

“Firefighters carry out work under dangerous conditions and often the incidents we attend are long and arduous, examples of this include the response to the Grenfell Tower fire and protracted flooding incidents. South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority has already spent far too much public money on legal fees defending the indefensible.

 

“We expect the fire and rescue service to return the affected personnel to the negotiated 2-2-4 duty system as soon as possible. We have little doubt that the fire and rescue authority will threaten to reduce fire cover across South Yorkshire as a result of this ruling. The fire and rescue authority is sitting on a mountain of cash reserves and there is no reason to make further cuts to the emergency fire cover for the people of South Yorkshire.”

 

The legal battle began in October 2015 when a group of South Yorkshire firefighters argued that the duty system was unlawful at an employment tribunal. The tribunal ruled in their favour two months later in December. Despite this, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service with the permission of their fire authority, continued to operate the duty system.

 

Frustrated that the fire authority and its officers were flouting the law by ignoring the employment tribunal decision, the FBU sought legal advice from employment lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to take steps to seek a judicial review. The case was heard on 26 April 2018 with the union represented by Mr Oliver Segal QC.

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FIREFIGHTERS’ UNION PAYS TRIBUTE TO VICTIMS OF THE GRENFELL TOWER FIRE

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has paid tribute to the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire on the day the public inquiry into the disaster opens.

 

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “The Grenfell Tower fire was a devastating and heartbreaking tragedy. Seventy-two people died and the lives of those who survived were forever changed.

 

“On behalf of firefighters everywhere, we pay our respects to those who died, were injured or lost loved ones. A whole community has been devastated. The thoughts of all firefighters will be with them as tributes begin at the public inquiry.

 

“The FBU is working with local people to help the community to recover. We will continue to do everything in our power to help them rebuild their lives.

 

“Firefighters want to see truth and justice served for the community. We are working with representatives of the bereaved, survivors and residents to ensure that the Grenfell Tower Inquiry thoroughly addresses all of the issues that lay behind this appalling event.”

Posted in Politics

Stand with your firefighters

Firefighters Memorial Day will soon be here (4 May) .
You may have seen the ‘Firefighters Memorial Day’ wristband, designed by FBU Official Cameron Matthews, which is an excellent physical representation of solidarity that people can wear on the build up to the day. The wristbands are proving very popular in the FBU shop where we have them on sale via a special promotion, with all profits going to the Firefighters100 fund. The wristbands are on sale for £2 each with free P&P.
We want as many people as possible to have the opportunity to show their solidarity with firefighters by wearing a wristband available by following the link below :
Posted in Uncategorized

Silent March for Grenfell

A Silent Walk in Solidarity with Grenfell is being arranged on 14 June to mark a year since the fire at Grenfell Tower disaster and support the Grenfell community in their fight for justice.

We make a lot of requests of our members to pound the tarmac for ‘this and that’ each year but there should be no social issue closer to our own hearts than this both for the victims of the fire and their families, or our sisters and brothers in LFB who continue to be haunted by their experiences that night.

Please come and march with us in silence, to send the loudest possible message, that will not accept this kind of neglect in favour of profit and stand shoulder to shoulder with the communities that we serve.

We will be gathering at Centenary Square at 17:45 and marching to Bradford Cathedral for 18:45, where we will be launching an art exhibition to raise funds for Justice4Grenfell. Https://keepsakeexhibition.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/events/1752020948189560/?ti=as

Posted in Fire Cuts, Politics

Remembering our fallen | Firefighters 100 Lottery

The Firefighters 100 Lottery is helping to fund memorials to firefighters who have died in the line of duty. But this really important work can only continue if people support our lottery. If you haven’t already done so, please sign up today and share our video ↓↓ with your friends and family.

 

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UNION CONDEMNS POLICE COMMISSIONER TAKEOVER OF NORTHAMPTONSHIRE FIRE SERVICE

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has condemned the decision to allow Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Stephen Mold to takeover the county’s fire and rescue service.

Announced by the Home Office this week it means the county council fire authority, which is made up of 57 councillors, will now be disbanded. The union says that transferring the governance in this way is a threat to the independence and neutrality of the fire service. There are also fears that fire service budgets could be raided in order to fund other projects headed by the commissioner. His title is set to become Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC).

Ben Selby, regional secretary of the FBU in the East Midlands, said:

“Many of the arguments in favour of PPC takeover of the fire service focus on “efficiency savings”. This is not how we should decide on how our life-saving emergency services are run. The priorities become skewed. There are other, more democratic and devolved models of governance on the table, rather than the tired PCC model. This model will end the independence that firefighters consider vital in order to carry out their jobs. This includes the ability to engage with local communities and gain access to people’s homes. It is widely understood, including among senior police officers, that the roles of the two services are completely different and that the ability of the fire and rescue service to engage with local communities in new ways, over the past decade, has largely been due to public awareness of this difference.”

In the last few weeks, the Home Office has also announced plans for PCCs to take over fire services in Cambridgeshire, Staffordshire and West Mercia. Essex Fire and Rescue was taken over by the PCC there in October 2017.

Posted in Fire Cuts

MAYORAL POWERGRAB OF FIRE SERVICE COULD SPELL DISASTER, WARNS UNION

No public mandate exists for the West Midlands Fire Service to be taken over by the Mayor according to the results of a public consultation, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has said. The consultation saw just 1163 people respond out of a population of 2.8 million people within the West Midlands.

 

The union has also warned that if the plans are given the go-ahead then the powers of the proposed fire advisory committee need to be extended in order to provide credible oversight and

accountability of Mayor Andy Street’s leadership of the emergency service. Currently, the FBU says the committee is toothless and lacks powers of intervention.

 

The 15 member advisory panel is made up of councillors plus one representative each from the Police, Ambulance and Health service. It means no one with any meaningful knowledge of the fire and rescue service will sit on the panel that the union believes does not have the power to properly scrutinise policy.

 

Pete Goulden, from the FBU in the West Midlands, said:

“The advisory committee is all gum, no teeth. It will have no powers to intervene or challenge the Mayor, service employees will not be represented and there will be a dangerous lack of knowledge of even the basics of firefighting. This could be a disastrous change of governance and has nowhere near enough public support for the changes to be made. There is the potential for every member of the committee to strongly disagree with the Mayor but with no actual power to do anything.

 

“Decisions affecting West Midlands firefighters will be made by those with no experience of firefighting. Our profession is a dangerous one; firefighters deal with life and death issues every day. It is essential people who understand our work sit on the panel and it needs to have greater oversight powers of the Mayor if it is not to be a total disaster. This proposal needs to go back to the drawing board and thought about again.”

Posted in Fire Cuts

HISTORICAL WEBSITE CHRONICLING HISTORY OF THE FIRE SERVICE AND ITS UNION GOES LIVE

A new website examining 100 years of fire service history has been launched today (9 April) as part of plans to mark the centenary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).

Visitors to the site will be able to explore the ways in which the union has contributed to the safety of both the public and firefighters through campaigns to introduce fire safety legislation and develop more effective firefighting equipment.

A historical timeline highlights major events in the FBU’s history as well as the union’s response to some of the most devastating fires in the UK, including the Rose & Crown hotel fire that led to the deaths of 11 guests in 1969. The FBU campaigned for the development of the legislation that still shapes fire safety regulation across all hotels today.

A series of long-form features explore periods of the union’s history in depth such as the development of the Auxiliary Fire Service during the Second World War that resulted in a huge membership growth for the union – from 3,500 members to 66,500. Users will also be able to browse the historical editions of the union’s journal, Firefighter, dating back to 1932.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said:

“In our centenary year, we want to celebrate the work of firefighters and the FBU who over ten decades have shaped the modern fire and rescue service and have, immeasurably, improved public safety. Far fewer people die in fires today than 100 years ago. This is not a happy accident – it is a result of the union and its members campaigning relentlessly for changes over the last century.

“When the union was first formed, firefighters had the most primitive protective equipment, were forced to live on stations full time, had no access to pensions and were paid less than unskilled labourers. Although the situation for firefighters today is far from perfect, the improvements we have seen are the result of campaigns run by the union.”

The FBU wants the centenary website to become a hub for fire service history and the site will be updated with new content frequently.

Discover the people, incidents and stories behind the FBU’s 100-year journey at: www.fbu.org.uk/centenary

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Congratulations Martyn

***** This just in from the Brigade Secretary****

West Yorkshire FBU Brigade Chairs election

I just wanted to thank everyone who participated in the recent West Yorkshire FBU Chairs election, which has been held with dignity and respect. As Brigade Secretary I have been incredibly lucky to have worked with some of the finest reps in the entire Union, let alone WYFBU, and both of these latest two candidates are in that bracket. May I just congratulate both of them in the comradely manor in which they have conducted themselves.

Once again the turnout of members voting was immense with 75% of all members taking part.

I can now announce that Martyn Bairstow will become the next WYFBU Chair with immediate effect having secured 423 votes to Mick Loney’s 239.

I’m sure you’ll join me in congratulating Martyn and wishing Mick every success in the future.

Posted in Elections