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Thursday, February 9, 2023

London Fire Brigade: Service sexist and racist says new report

An independent review into the conduct and experiences of staff members at the London Fire Brigade reveals the service to be sexist and racist amid reports of pornographic videos, helmets filled with urine, and racist abuse.

The report found London’s fire and rescue service to have a “toxic culture” and concluded that the organisation was “institutionally misogynistic and racist.”

It also heard from a number of staff and investigated said abuses, finding women to have been groped during training exercises, frequently referred to as “front bottom,” while others were punched or attacked by male colleagues.

There have also been 10 cases of staff being disciplined for sexual harassment, according to disciplinary information requested by the investigators.

In one instance, a distressed female firefighter recalled how she received unwanted sexual advances and was subject to a video call where the male colleague exposed his genitals and said: “you want this don’t you?”

The investigation also found instances of male firefighters watching pornographic films together and of a Muslim firefighter being taunted by having bacon and pork sausages put in his pocket.

The Muslim firefighter was often mocked with an ‘Indian accent’ by other staff and was routinely asked about his “magic carpet.”

Upon his return from the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, he was asked how his Al Qaida training had gone and even had a terrorism hotline sticker placed on his locker.

In one harrowing instance, the report found that “when he experienced a fatality, a Muslim Pakistani woman, in a fire and his colleagues made jokes about the body, this was the final straw.

“After making several complaints that were dismissed, he began to suffer from depression and anxiety, and would later collapse at work and be admitted to hospital.

“He has since been diagnosed with PTSD and has confessed to having suicidal thoughts.”

It was also found that minority firefighters felt that they had to work twice as hard to be heard, while the damning evaluation of the workplace environment found other instances of uniforms being urinated on in the name of “banter.”

The report said that these instances show the impact of casual cruelty left unchecked by management.

Adding: “That complaints are frequently blocked by managers and not allowed to go anywhere because they don’t deem such abuse to be racist means there is little protection or justice mechanisms for those on the receiving end of abuse.”

A female firefighter told the review: “you would have to gouge someone’s eyes out to get sacked,” adding: “Everything else is seen as banter.”

She also said how she warns female friends to not let male firefighters in to check fire alarms as many of them would go throw woman’s drawers to find underwear and sex toys. 

She added: “We hear it all the time and I’m sick of it. You shouldn’t have to listen to this all the time in any workplace.”



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