NEWS COMMENT: Our brave firefighters are only human after all

To go into a career knowing that you will be putting your life on the line to save others, day-in, day-out, takes enormous bravery and strength of character. Â

Wednesday, 19th December 2018, 4:50 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 10:20 am

But that's what firefighters across Hampshire do and countless lives have been saved by their actions. 

It would be easy to see the men and women of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service as superheroes '“ and to many people they are.  But, in fact, they are only human.  

A report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has given HFRS an overall rating of '˜good' in an assessment of effectiveness and efficiency.

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But, worryingly, it found response times have also gone up. And it was deemed as '˜requires improvement' in looking after its staff.

Just as a recent inspection report into Queen Alexandra Hospital recently found, there is a culture of bullying, with some female members of staff going so far as to claim they felt '˜undervalued'. 

Overall, inspectors found '˜low morale' in the workforce. 

And there were concerns raised over a potential conflict of interest over a consultancy set up by HFRS to carry out inspections while a backlog has been building up of high-risk building inspections the service must carry out, by law. 

The fire service is a high-pressure environment. In the year to March 2018 firefighters attended 14,600 call-outs. 

Firefighters jump into their trucks not knowing whether they will come back. 

It is a high-risk job with a very unique set of pressures but they will only be made harder to bear by '˜domineering managers' and '˜divisive language' '“ which the report claims is a problem at HFRS. 

Though it is clear that public safety is beyond doubt , staffing  issues must be tackled as a matter of urgency.