National Update

FRSA National Update

19 October 2023

Workplace Culture Report - FRSA Statement

On Tuesday of this week, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) published its independent report into the service’s workplace culture.

The FRSA welcomed the commissioning of the review back in March of this year after a barrage of adverse media publicity.  It was clear to us after dealing with member cases that inappropriate behaviour was not being dealt with appropriately by the management and there was clearly a question as to whether there was a wider culture problem within the organisation.  

The report makes for uncomfortable reading.  It continues a theme which goes back to the Lucas report in 2015 for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service and more recently, London Fire Brigade, which identified toxic culture of bullying and harassment and poor behaviour going unchallenged.

These are not problems facing DWFRS and London alone. Our members have experienced such behaviours in a number of other services across the country. We have witnessed a lack of training for officers managing the disciplinary process, inadequate or non-existent exit interviews, weak policies and procedures on bullying and harassment and a lack of empathy towards female firefighters.

The review itself was a reaction to media scrutiny which pushed the service into requesting external involvement for a more detailed investigation into its workplace culture. This raises questions of the governance model and its overall effectiveness. It also brings into doubt the processes of His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, which had recently rated the service as ‘good’. They themselves now need a period of self-reflection.

The 41-page report makes 28 recommendations – all of which have been accepted by DWFRS.

While the recommendations talk of the need for robust policies and a ‘Code of Ethics’, ultimately, it’s good leaders, managers and firefighters who can create safe and welcoming places to work, free from bullying, harassment, and discrimination.

We expect the Senior Leadership Team and Fire Authority Members to take responsibility for the contents of the independent report, this has happened on their watch and they should question themselves as to whether they are the best people to rectify the issues evidenced in the report.

The report is in no way a reflection of the vast majority of operational and non-operational staff who uphold the appropriate standards and values expected by colleagues and the public.

We will be monitoring the progress the service makes in addressing these recommendations over the coming months. More importantly we will be here to help and support our members, as we always do, without fear or favour.

Tristan Ashby
Chief Executive Officer

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