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Culture Review into London Fire Brigade

27 FEBRUARY 2023



1) Purpose of Report

  1. To inform GPWG Members of the Independent Review of London Fire Brigade published November 2022; concerns about culture, values, and behaviours across the fire & rescue sector; and actions taken by Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service.

2) Recommendation

  1. That Members note the content of the report and details about the plan of action. 

3) Information and Analysis

  1. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​London Fire Brigade commissioned an independent cultural review which was a recommendation following an internal investigation into the death of Firefighter Francois-Esprit, who tragically took his own life in August 2020. His family were concerned that he had been bullied at work because of his race.  The Brigade knew there were longstanding issues with poor culture and behaviour before his death.  They made attempts to address these issues, but without success. The review was chaired by Nazir Afzal OBE and included feedback from more than 2,000 current and former members of staff and community groups who shared their experiences of the Brigade.  There are 23 recommendations.
  2. A paragraph from the conclusion of the report states: ‘The exposure of prejudice in the workplace at one of the world’s largest firefighting and rescue organisations should put other Brigades on notice. Because while London’s public services are very much in the spotlight at the moment, I have no doubt that similar cultural problems exist in other Fire Brigades across the country. Our findings should serve as an urgent reminder that fire doesn’t discriminate and neither should any firefighter’.
  3. Since the publication of the report in November 2022, both South Wales and Dorset & Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Services have been named in the media as having a poor culture, with examples of harassment, discrimination and inappropriate behaviour towards women.
  4. The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) is leading on some work to address the concerns raised about values, behaviours and culture and will publish an action plan for all Fire & Rescue Services.
  5. The Minister of State for Crime, Policing and Fire has requested His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Service (HMICFRS) to undertake a spotlight report into issues of culture and values that they found in their most recent inspections.  They have asked all Services to give details of casework related to inappropriate behaviour. 
  6. We have acted on the issues and concerns raised about culture and behaviours.  These include:
    • Updated the Corporate Risk Register to include the risk of poor culture and behaviours
    • Proposed year one CRMP project to review the culture and behaviours at Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service
    • A dedicated team from across the Service including HR, Inclusion and Communications have started to create an action plan, which incorporates the findings and recommendations from the London Fire Brigade cultural review (appendix one)
    • Workshops undertaken with all staff to discuss Code of Ethics, values and behaviours
    • Sent communications to employees about existing policies and procedures available to raise concerns about inappropriate behaviours
    • Signposted employees to sources of support including blue light champions, staff networks, Chaplaincy, the Firefighters Charity and the employee assistance programme.
  7. Progress against the action plan will be monitored by the Strategic Leadership Team and the Governance and Performance Working Group.

4) Further Considerations

  1. None.

This report has been consulted upon and approved by the following officers:

Strategic Leadership Team – 15 February 2023

Contact Officer:   Davinder Johal              Contact No:  01773 305493

Background Papers:

  • Independent Culture Review of London Fire Brigade November 2022 LFB Report
  • Appendix 1: Draft Cultural Review Action Plan

Appendix 1

Draft Culture Review Action Plan (pdf 228.01 KB)