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East Sussex firefighters pass vote of no confidence in fire service leadership

19th June 2024

Firefighters in East Sussex have unanimously passed a motion of no confidence in the senior leadership team of East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, at a meeting of the East Sussex Fire Brigades Union brigade committee.   

The committee is composed of Fire Brigades Union (FBU) representatives from fire stations across the county, representing firefighters across all duty systems and ranks. 

FBU members raised a series of issues including areas of East Sussex being left without adequate fire cover; recently introduced IT systems resulting in crucial data being lost; and managers failing to provide crucial firefighter training. 

Recent changes to duty systems have resulted in over-reliance on overtime, with the service failing to meet its own standards for fire cover across the county.   

Firefighters have reported that new IT provisions have made work practices less efficient and unsuitable for inputting and storing vital data.   

FBU members also cite the mismanagement of crucial firefighter training courses, with poor planning resulting in frequent cancellations with an impact on fire cover.   

Simon Herbert, Fire Brigades Union East Sussex brigade secretary said:   

“The committee has not taken this decision lightly. Branches first brought resolutions regarding a lack of confidence in the senior leadership team back in 2023 due to a number of issues relating to crewing, shift patterns, reliance on overtime, training, IT and occupational health. 

“Fire Brigades Union representatives have worked closely with the Service over the last 6 months to seek improvements to the issues raised. However, FBU members believe too little has changed and many of the issues remain unresolved.

“The FBU believes that the service has had plenty of time to make the necessary improvements, but have been too slow to do so.”

Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union general secretary said: 

“Firefighters and the public are being failed by those at the top of East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service. To protect homes and lives, firefighters must be supported with adequate resources, crewing, and training.

“This vote of no confidence sends a clear message: senior management of the service must start listening to firefighters on the frontline.”