The Fire Brigades Union has published a manifesto setting out its demands to reverse cuts and commit to investment in the fire and rescue service including an additional 5,000 firefighters to deal with the wide range of emergencies faced by communities across the country.
The launch coincided with a mass gathering of firefighters in Westminster that took place on 1 November. The manifesto restates many of the FBU’s long standing policy positions including the creation of a new statutory advisory body and a fully funded duty to respond to flooding and extreme weather. The recent change to trade union laws to mandate minimum service levels should be repealed, said the union as it reasserted its right to organise, assemble and take industrial action.
Matt Wrack, FBU General Secretary said,
“The fire and rescue service is in crisis. To avoid catastrophe, politicians must start listening to the voice of the frontline. Firefighters are there in our time of need, and climate change means there is an urgent requirement to build resilience in the fire and rescue service, as recent flooding has illustrated.”
With the Government yet to publish its response to the Fire White Paper – where consultation closed in July 2022 – the FBU says that it is ‘willing to discuss serious proposals for reorganising the fire and rescue service as long as they will improve public and firefighter safety and protect democratic accountability.’
The 48-page manifesto also sets out the union’s responses to the consequences of the Grenfell Tower Fire. Urging the government to remove flammable cladding from all tower blocks, retrofit sprinklers in high-risk buildings and reintroduce mandatory fire certificates for specific premises, the union said that fire inspectors should get the right resources to enforce the legislation and be more involved in the process of the construction of high-risk premises.