Governance issues in Welsh fire services highlighted by Senedd report


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Report findings on Welsh fire services governance

On 6th June, the Senedd’s Equality and Social Justice Committee published a new report on the governance of Welsh fire and rescue services.

The report follows an investigation into the controversial appointment of Stuart Millington as Interim Chief Fire Officer for South Wales.

It finds a lack of clarity and “troubling” responses from respondents in senior positions.

The committee recommends that the Welsh government clarify that fire service staff coming forward with complaints will be adequately supported and treated fairly.

It also urges the government to explore options for “more radical reform” in the long term.

Fire Brigades Union response

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary Matt Wrack commented on the report: “This report confirms serious failings of leadership at the very top.

“Chief fire officers and senior managers have presided over a situation in which those who speak out against bullying, harassment and discrimination are silenced or victimised.”

Wrack emphasised the need for accountability and support for firefighters: “To build the trust needed to transform the service, firefighters must be given a voice and fire service leaders must be held to account.

“Parachuting in managers with no experience of firefighting will only further entrench a lack of confidence in leadership.”

Call for reforms and negotiations

Wrack also mentioned the necessity for proper negotiations regarding changes to firefighters’ duties: “While the FBU is open to discussing the broadening the role of firefighters, any change to firefighters’ duties and terms of work are a matter for negotiation at the National Joint Council.

“The FBU will continue to engage in ongoing discussions with the Welsh government.”

He highlighted the union’s role in promoting equality and dignity at work: “Any plan to transform the fire service must have the union as the voice of frontline firefighters at its heart and must recognise the necessity of making the service democratically governed and accountable to residents.”

Firefighters’ concerns in Wales

Cerith Griffiths, FBU executive council member for Wales, expressed concerns about the treatment of firefighters: “Firefighters across Wales feel ignored and silenced by those at the top.

“For far too long, concerns have been dismissed or met with hostility.”

Griffiths reiterated the committee’s conclusions on the controversial appointment: “As the Senedd’s Equality and Social Justice Committee concludes, the inappropriate appointment of Stuart Millington has further reinforced a lack of confidence and trust.”

The union’s role in addressing discrimination

Griffiths stressed the union’s ongoing efforts to combat discrimination: “The FBU and its equalities sections have been fighting misogyny, homophobia and racism in the fire service for decades.

“The union must be empowered to play a key role in transforming our service, supporting firefighters to speak out.”

He concluded by underscoring the union’s commitment to accountability: “As the only democratic and representative body for firefighters and control room staff, the Fire Brigades Union will hold the Welsh government to account and fight to transform our service.”

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