Firefighter mental health and well being review ‘a mixed bag’ says union

A Fire Brigades Union leader has said a review of mental health and well being in the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is a ‘mixed bag’.

The report by Her Majesty’s of Fire and Rescue Services interviewed 150 current and former fire and rescue service personnel about mental health and well being.

Whilst inspectors identified a number of positive developments to support firefighters who suffer mental ill health, the report made no mention of the impact of year on year budget cuts, job losses and the impact of fire contaminants on the health of firefighters.

John McKenzie, Scottish Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union said,

 ‘Our members carry out very challenging roles where they are often exposed to extremely traumatic incidents – the report rightly recognises this.’

‘The FBU supports the work the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has done in recognising and supporting mental wellbeing however, it is clear that the lack of financial resources has restricted progress and delivery and in some important areas stalled. The underfunding of key working groups set up to address specific concerns has hampered their work.’

‘The inspectorate report also backed up the evidence found in the FBU’s own ‘Firestorm’ report which highlighted major deficiencies in training and the serious concerns throughout the Service of the impact of fire contaminants on firefighter health and wellbeing. These issues must be addressed as a matter of urgency.’

‘Every firefighter knows that the Scottish Government’s long term programme of real terms budget cuts to our Service is impacting on the mental wellbeing of our members, this week’s Scottish budget has to provide investment to reverse the cuts to ensure we have a fire and rescue service that keeps both the public and the firefighters who serve them safe and well.’