Union slams Bucks Fire and Rescue Service leadership after damning report
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The Fire Brigade Union has criticised Buckinghamshire Fire and Service’s response to an independent report that stated it must improve.
In a statement the union accused people in leadership roles at the fire service of being ‘asleep at the wheel’.
A statement was released by the union criticising decision-makers, after the first meeting held after the report, was partially redacted.
A 52-page report assessing the fire service was released on 19 October by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services said it ‘needed improvement overall’. The fire service covering Milton Keynes and the wider Bucks area was only ranked as adequate in one category, scoring the second lowest grade in a majority of categories, and inadequate in the other section.
Last week a meeting between the fire bosses for the area was only partially released to the public on YouTube for legal reasons. The BBC said the meeting, which was attended by HMICFRS inspector Roy Wilsher, who penned the report, was a tense affair.
The union has criticised that decision, stating the information should be available as the running of the emergency response unit is a matter of public safety.
The Fire Brigades Union adds that the service is one of the lowest funded departments in the country, with expenditure at £35.51 per person for the fire service compared to the average of £41.88 in England.
Fire Brigades Union southern region executive council member Steve Wright said: “Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service has been officially deemed inadequate at protecting the public. This is a scandal that should concern every resident of Buckinghamshire.
“The service has been hollowed out under the watch of senior managers. Instead of standing up against a brutal regime of cuts, those at the top have been asleep at the wheel. Firefighters have had enough.
“Despite the HMICFRS report being released over a week ago, all we have seen is an absence of leadership in response. The public fire authority meeting addressing the report has been redacted.
“The state of our fire service is a matter of public and firefighter safety. We need urgent investment and action, but all we’re getting is a chaotic cover up. Firefighters won’t sit by as our service is run into the ground.”
Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service was contacted for comment.
After the report was released, Bucks Fire and Rescue Service chairman, Councillor Simon Rouse, said: “This report is difficult but important reading for all of us who value the vital role that our Fire and Rescue Service plays in keeping communities safe across Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes. Despite many positives, the service has not made enough progress since the last HMICFRS report. The Authority will be seeking clear plans and focused action to which we can hold the service to account in urgently addressing the areas highlighted.
“With finances now strengthened and operational resources increased, a sound platform to now accelerate transformation of the service is there to deliver the improvements needed."