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Fire Brigades Union responds to latest Senedd report on fire service governance failings

Wales Fire and Rescue Service

The Senedd’s Equality and Social Justice Committee has today published a new report on the governance of Welsh fire and rescue services. 

Following an investigation into the controversial appointment of Stuart Millington as Interim Chief Fire Officer for South Wales, the report finds a lack of clarity and “troubling” responses from respondents in senior positions.  

The committee recommends that the Welsh government make clear that fire service staff coming forwards with complaints will be adequately supported and treated fairly, alongside urgently exploring options for “more radical reform” in the long term.  

Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack said: 

“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. 

“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. 

“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. 

“The FBU and its equalities sections have a proud history of fighting for 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.” 

Cerith Griffiths, Fire Brigades Union executive council member for Wales said:  

“Firefighters across Wales feel ignored and silenced by those at the top. For far too long, concerns have been dismissed or met with hostility. 

“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 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. 

“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.”