FBU’s Mr Toad attack says more about them than it does about Brian Coleman

My office in City Hall is next to Brian Coleman’s, he is currently making space on his office wall for the Mr Toad posters that the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) produced last week for the opening of the new Harold Hill fire station. If any of you have the Coleman mustard one he’d like a copy of that too please.

The FBU’s attacks on Brian have been aggressive and highly personal and these posters follow that pattern. The FBU are angry because London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) and senior managers of the Fire Brigade are changing the shift patterns in the light of changing risks and likely funding reductions.
The FBU want everything to stay the same, this includes the retention of beds in fire stations. Arguments like this completely undermine the position of the FBU, which other night shift job would it be seen as appropriate for people to get to work and then go to sleep?
I have met a lot of fire fighters and as I said in my post of last week, they do a fantastic and often dangerous job. The brigade is doing great work helping to change the lives of some of London’s most disadvantaged kids but this great work is being overshadowed and undermined by the foolish actions of the FBU.

48 responses to “FBU’s Mr Toad attack says more about them than it does about Brian Coleman

  1. “which other…job would it be seen as appropriate for people to get to work and then go to sleep?”

    Hmmm, let me think….

    Here, for your interest, are the comments recently left by a fireman on my own blog:

    “not sure you understand what this could mean to you and all other members of the public. would you feel comfortable being cut out of your car by a firefighter using cutting equipment with a 7 ton cutting force inches away from your body when they are reasonably rested in the middle of the night or one that has had little or no sleep in the past 48 hours. i am not a militant fbu member but i can see the drawbacks to the proposed changes that brian coleman want to force through.”

  2. “which other…job would it be seen as appropriate for people to get to work and then go to sleep?”

    Hmmm, let me think….

    Here, for your interest, are the comments recently left by a fireman on my own blog:

    “not sure you understand what this could mean to you and all other members of the public. would you feel comfortable being cut out of your car by a firefighter using cutting equipment with a 7 ton cutting force inches away from your body when they are reasonably rested in the middle of the night or one that has had little or no sleep in the past 48 hours. i am not a militant fbu member but i can see the drawbacks to the proposed changes that brian coleman want to force through.”

  3. I don't know if you've ever worked night shifts yourself – but my experience (not doing anything as potentially dangerous as firefighting I should add), is that despite best efforts its not quite as simple as that. A quick search of the internet reveals that I am not alone in finding it difficult to get proper sleep during the day, and also to be wide awake at night.

    When my wife had an epidural at 3 or 4am, the anaesthetist had to be woken to administer it. I was jolly glad that this man putting a curved needle into my wife's spinal column had had some sleep.

    For me its the same argument.

  4. I don't know if you've ever worked night shifts yourself – but my experience (not doing anything as potentially dangerous as firefighting I should add), is that despite best efforts its not quite as simple as that. A quick search of the internet reveals that I am not alone in finding it difficult to get proper sleep during the day, and also to be wide awake at night.

    When my wife had an epidural at 3 or 4am, the anaesthetist had to be woken to administer it. I was jolly glad that this man putting a curved needle into my wife's spinal column had had some sleep.

    For me its the same argument.

  5. As a firefighter in Greater Manchester our beds were removed many years ago (same all over our region and many, many others). We do not offer an inferior service to any authority which does have beds. We sleep in the day. Sometimes the FBU works in our interest but on many occasions they seem to object to something strongly in one area, citing 'public safety' on something which is normal practice in other areas. And it's not just London. In Yorkshire they are presently campaigning and running action against shift patterns which I've been working to for years (and we all prefer them). If you're working a 15 hour night shift you will be tired, as you only have 9 hours until your next one… if you're on a 12 hour night shift you'll bet a good break to sleep and rest before your next one. Dare I say Simples?

  6. As a firefighter in Greater Manchester our beds were removed many years ago (same all over our region and many, many others). We do not offer an inferior service to any authority which does have beds. We sleep in the day. Sometimes the FBU works in our interest but on many occasions they seem to object to something strongly in one area, citing 'public safety' on something which is normal practice in other areas. And it's not just London. In Yorkshire they are presently campaigning and running action against shift patterns which I've been working to for years (and we all prefer them). If you're working a 15 hour night shift you will be tired, as you only have 9 hours until your next one… if you're on a 12 hour night shift you'll bet a good break to sleep and rest before your next one. Dare I say Simples?

  7. Actually BCaMThGtg I'm very familiar with the effect that working at night has on people having done it myself in the army and with a mother who regularly did night shifts as a nurse and midwife.

    In your wife's case I suspect the anaesthetist was on call rather than on a night shift. Being on call is one thing, doing a night shift means being awake and doing work.

    If you really think fire fighters should be asleep on night shifts why not just rely on retained fire fighters who can be asleep at home in their very own beds?

  8. Actually BCaMThGtg I'm very familiar with the effect that working at night has on people having done it myself in the army and with a mother who regularly did night shifts as a nurse and midwife.

    In your wife's case I suspect the anaesthetist was on call rather than on a night shift. Being on call is one thing, doing a night shift means being awake and doing work.

    If you really think fire fighters should be asleep on night shifts why not just rely on retained fire fighters who can be asleep at home in their very own beds?

  9. As a serving firefighter i'll say the day management start paying a shift allowance/unsocial hour payments, just like most other shift workers, they can remove our stand down which is the time we are alloud to rest on beds!

    BUT the point that is being missed by all the beds comments is:- the moment 12 hour shift are bought in is the moment there will be less fire cover at night and less FF on duty at night.

    The majority of fire death happen at night!!!

  10. As a serving firefighter i'll say the day management start paying a shift allowance/unsocial hour payments, just like most other shift workers, they can remove our stand down which is the time we are alloud to rest on beds!

    BUT the point that is being missed by all the beds comments is:- the moment 12 hour shift are bought in is the moment there will be less fire cover at night and less FF on duty at night.

    The majority of fire death happen at night!!!

  11. I find it interesting that everytime the LFEPA plan to make cuts in fire cover, therefore providing the public with a worse service and risking lives, they alway come out with this idea that firefighters are lazy and only out for themselves.

    Brain Coleman knows that there is nothing for us to do between midnight and 7am that we don't already do.

    There have been many studies done that prove that the quick change over from days to nights that firefighter do is bad for the health, which is why we are allowed to rest during those hours.

    It is not even the removal of beds that the lobby at harold Hill was about, the reduction in fire cover, the new shift, treatment of Paul Embery and the breaking of agreements by Brain and his collegues to name but a few.

    To say the FBU are attacking him is a joke, they are only giving him the same treatment he hands out to others, if he can't take it he shouldn't give it, that's where the “Odius Toad” comes from, Brain's insult to another LFEPA member.

    The Brigade and the FBU agreed at a joint H&S committee that beds would remain until a replacement was found, the chair at Harold Hill were deemed unfit for use by H&S experts paid for by the brigade, but Brain ignored them because he thinks he knows best.

    If the public heard all the facts and not just the spin Brain puts out I'm sure I know who they will side with.
    SG3R

  12. I find it interesting that everytime the LFEPA plan to make cuts in fire cover, therefore providing the public with a worse service and risking lives, they alway come out with this idea that firefighters are lazy and only out for themselves.

    Brain Coleman knows that there is nothing for us to do between midnight and 7am that we don't already do.

    There have been many studies done that prove that the quick change over from days to nights that firefighter do is bad for the health, which is why we are allowed to rest during those hours.

    It is not even the removal of beds that the lobby at harold Hill was about, the reduction in fire cover, the new shift, treatment of Paul Embery and the breaking of agreements by Brain and his collegues to name but a few.

    To say the FBU are attacking him is a joke, they are only giving him the same treatment he hands out to others, if he can't take it he shouldn't give it, that's where the “Odius Toad” comes from, Brain's insult to another LFEPA member.

    The Brigade and the FBU agreed at a joint H&S committee that beds would remain until a replacement was found, the chair at Harold Hill were deemed unfit for use by H&S experts paid for by the brigade, but Brain ignored them because he thinks he knows best.

    If the public heard all the facts and not just the spin Brain puts out I'm sure I know who they will side with.
    SG3R

  13. James Cleverly
    from his website”London Assembly Member for Bexley and Bromley, Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group and the Mayor of London's Ambassador for youth”
    methinks this is why he talks so fondly of Coleman

  14. James Cleverly
    from his website”London Assembly Member for Bexley and Bromley, Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group and the Mayor of London's Ambassador for youth”
    methinks this is why he talks so fondly of Coleman

  15. it all seems so simple when it is painted as Black or white,what about the fire fighter that has to go home and look after her/his child during the day,or when a firefighter is required to stay past the end of a shift for maybe up to four hours due to operational needs,lives an hour away from the station ing only 6 hours resting time between thus giving 6 hours between shifts

  16. it all seems so simple when it is painted as Black or white,what about the fire fighter that has to go home and look after her/his child during the day,or when a firefighter is required to stay past the end of a shift for maybe up to four hours due to operational needs,lives an hour away from the station ing only 6 hours resting time between thus giving 6 hours between shifts

  17. Firefighters are on call, just the same as the doctor who performed the epidural mentioned above. We just happen to be on call whilst at the fire station, on what is called stand down time.

    In other words, we don't get paid a shift allowance to work a night shift, we get paid to tuen out to shouts at night and stand down between midnight and 7.00 am, in between shouts. This is so that we can rest after coming back from jobs, and make sure we turn out to jobs properly rested and able to pefrom anything that is required of us.

    If anyone thinks that it all sounds nice and cosy, I suggest that they try 'sleeping' on a fire station. Waiting to be called out to god knows what at a seconds notice. I can assure all of them that what we do on stand down time is rest, not sleep.

    The proposed shift changes are about reducing night time fire cover, (who in their right mind can agree to such a thing?), and Coleman's vindictive and nasty nature. He's a worm trying to make a name for himself and Boris Johnson handing him the chair of the LFEPA has given him his little bit of power and he is going to make sure he uses it to promote himself. The man is a disgrace and should be removed from his role before he does irreparable damage the performance and image of London and it's emergency services at such an important time. The Londion Fire Brigade was one of the best in the world,and something for Londoners to be proud of. (see catalogue of major and terrorsist incidents dealt with by the LFB over the years) But Coleman is hellbent on wrecking it to satisfy his own political aspirations and perverted ego.

  18. Firefighters are on call, just the same as the doctor who performed the epidural mentioned above. We just happen to be on call whilst at the fire station, on what is called stand down time.

    In other words, we don't get paid a shift allowance to work a night shift, we get paid to tuen out to shouts at night and stand down between midnight and 7.00 am, in between shouts. This is so that we can rest after coming back from jobs, and make sure we turn out to jobs properly rested and able to pefrom anything that is required of us.

    If anyone thinks that it all sounds nice and cosy, I suggest that they try 'sleeping' on a fire station. Waiting to be called out to god knows what at a seconds notice. I can assure all of them that what we do on stand down time is rest, not sleep.

    The proposed shift changes are about reducing night time fire cover, (who in their right mind can agree to such a thing?), and Coleman's vindictive and nasty nature. He's a worm trying to make a name for himself and Boris Johnson handing him the chair of the LFEPA has given him his little bit of power and he is going to make sure he uses it to promote himself. The man is a disgrace and should be removed from his role before he does irreparable damage the performance and image of London and it's emergency services at such an important time. The Londion Fire Brigade was one of the best in the world,and something for Londoners to be proud of. (see catalogue of major and terrorsist incidents dealt with by the LFB over the years) But Coleman is hellbent on wrecking it to satisfy his own political aspirations and perverted ego.

  19. how is childcare during the day between 2N's relevant? a factory worker who does nights cannot not decide to have a nap during the shift due having to look after the kids the next day!!

    childcare is the individuals responsibility not the organisations

  20. how is childcare during the day between 2N's relevant? a factory worker who does nights cannot not decide to have a nap during the shift due having to look after the kids the next day!!

    childcare is the individuals responsibility not the organisations

  21. Coleman is a self centred arrogant tory councillor who despises all Firefighters. I am a 20 year fireman who has had dead fireman and burnt up dead kids in my arms and what is happening to my “beloved” job makes me sick. Coleman is destroying this service, morale is at a low and as a tory, Coleman is manouvering in a reccession to achieve his damning cuts that will destroy a fine service.
    PS the opening of Harold Hill should have been a great PR experience but because of Coleman it was a complete farce!

  22. Coleman is a self centred arrogant tory councillor who despises all Firefighters. I am a 20 year fireman who has had dead fireman and burnt up dead kids in my arms and what is happening to my “beloved” job makes me sick. Coleman is destroying this service, morale is at a low and as a tory, Coleman is manouvering in a reccession to achieve his damning cuts that will destroy a fine service.
    PS the opening of Harold Hill should have been a great PR experience but because of Coleman it was a complete farce!

  23. “which other night shift job would it be seen as appropriate for people to get to work and then go to sleep?”

    What about your emergency gas board, water board, lift engineers etc.all paid a retainer to sleep in their own beds and answer emergency calls. Which other night shift job pays no allowance for weekends? The 12 hour shift will take four nights out of our social calender insteaed of two for no extra remittance and distrupting the lives we have built around our current shift..People seem to forget that essentially the Fire Service is an emergency service not a producer for financial gain.

  24. “which other night shift job would it be seen as appropriate for people to get to work and then go to sleep?”

    What about your emergency gas board, water board, lift engineers etc.all paid a retainer to sleep in their own beds and answer emergency calls. Which other night shift job pays no allowance for weekends? The 12 hour shift will take four nights out of our social calender insteaed of two for no extra remittance and distrupting the lives we have built around our current shift..People seem to forget that essentially the Fire Service is an emergency service not a producer for financial gain.

  25. I think you will find that Ronnie and his colleagues probably live in Manchester, but on my watch in the LFB 5 out of 7 members lived at least a 2 hour drive away because we can't afford to live in London, this would mean a 12 hour day means 16 hours away from home. That is without calls at the end of the shift. So I could be getting home at 11pm and having to leave home again the next morning at 5.30-6.00 to get back to work. I think that at the end of the second day fatigue could be quite dangerous

  26. I think you will find that Ronnie and his colleagues probably live in Manchester, but on my watch in the LFB 5 out of 7 members lived at least a 2 hour drive away because we can't afford to live in London, this would mean a 12 hour day means 16 hours away from home. That is without calls at the end of the shift. So I could be getting home at 11pm and having to leave home again the next morning at 5.30-6.00 to get back to work. I think that at the end of the second day fatigue could be quite dangerous

  27. Agree with Anonymous. I have the leasure of a 1.15 hour drive from the Cheshir border into my borough in Manchester so much easier than a 2 hour commute. This would mean that on a 15 hour shift you would get home 19 hours after you left it giving you a 5 hour turnaround to next shift and it would be exhausting to work these hours if on a shout at night. Beds in station would pretty much make no difference at all.

    Childcare will be an issue in all shift work jobs and should be a consideration if you choose shift work whatever the role.

    I think that all FF would agree that Rich CM* is a very unusual firefighter to have had a dead fireman (firefighter is the correct terminology in the industry Rich) and dead child in his arms at age 20.

    This is all about change and nobody wants change for the worse. I agree with many of the voices in this very interesting thread. I disagree with others but take a pragmatic and balanced view of all.

    FF – we all do a very valuable job and we are lucky to be able to do it.

  28. Agree with Anonymous. I have the leasure of a 1.15 hour drive from the Cheshir border into my borough in Manchester so much easier than a 2 hour commute. This would mean that on a 15 hour shift you would get home 19 hours after you left it giving you a 5 hour turnaround to next shift and it would be exhausting to work these hours if on a shout at night. Beds in station would pretty much make no difference at all.

    Childcare will be an issue in all shift work jobs and should be a consideration if you choose shift work whatever the role.

    I think that all FF would agree that Rich CM* is a very unusual firefighter to have had a dead fireman (firefighter is the correct terminology in the industry Rich) and dead child in his arms at age 20.

    This is all about change and nobody wants change for the worse. I agree with many of the voices in this very interesting thread. I disagree with others but take a pragmatic and balanced view of all.

    FF – we all do a very valuable job and we are lucky to be able to do it.

  29. Ronnie
    I accept your arguments but we are of an age that does not invole childcare so between nights is not a problem because there is always something you can do for a few hours between nights. Between days is a different matter because if we got back from a shout at 9.00pm the LFB do not allow you to stay on the station so you have to go home.

  30. Ronnie
    I accept your arguments but we are of an age that does not invole childcare so between nights is not a problem because there is always something you can do for a few hours between nights. Between days is a different matter because if we got back from a shout at 9.00pm the LFB do not allow you to stay on the station so you have to go home.

  31. Ronnie
    The other thing you have to remember about nights is that we are travelling against the traffic. So days is 2 hours in and 2 hours home but on nights on a good day I can do it in 1:15

  32. Ronnie
    The other thing you have to remember about nights is that we are travelling against the traffic. So days is 2 hours in and 2 hours home but on nights on a good day I can do it in 1:15

  33. james..i agree about people sleeping on a night shift while paid is wrong ..i have just passed your views onto servicmen on op herrick …bloody disgusting..squaddies are paid 24hrs a day and they think that not only can they get there head down when on QRF( just like the firefighters but the medical team in helmand thinks its acceptable to stand down the troops at night as its more quiet!!!!..glad you agree if your paid you should be awake..

  34. james..i agree about people sleeping on a night shift while paid is wrong ..i have just passed your views onto servicmen on op herrick …bloody disgusting..squaddies are paid 24hrs a day and they think that not only can they get there head down when on QRF( just like the firefighters but the medical team in helmand thinks its acceptable to stand down the troops at night as its more quiet!!!!..glad you agree if your paid you should be awake..

  35. Jimbo,

    If fire fighters were serving a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week, 6 month “shift” your comments might make some sense. But as they don't I really can't see what point you are trying to make.

  36. Jimbo,

    If fire fighters were serving a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week, 6 month “shift” your comments might make some sense. But as they don't I really can't see what point you are trying to make.

  37. point being that downtime is encouraged ..its irrelevent whether you are paid or not ..the fact remains that certain jobs within a night shift only warrent a reactionary role ..QRF csar crews medical teams, ,firefighters , blah blah blah…so on a 15 hour night shift if men stand down from midnight to 0640 then what is your point? your post about retained firemen is bone ?? one you accept a lower standard of cover and furthermore please tell me how you think 30k buys every london firefighter a house 4 min from their station ..as you may guess im an ex servicman who is currently a reservist and a firefighter..its not about the union its about being professional and fair ..something coleman is not ..he is a bitter insecure person who has a personal agenda ..your mind is a parachute james..its pays to open it ..

  38. point being that downtime is encouraged ..its irrelevent whether you are paid or not ..the fact remains that certain jobs within a night shift only warrent a reactionary role ..QRF csar crews medical teams, ,firefighters , blah blah blah…so on a 15 hour night shift if men stand down from midnight to 0640 then what is your point? your post about retained firemen is bone ?? one you accept a lower standard of cover and furthermore please tell me how you think 30k buys every london firefighter a house 4 min from their station ..as you may guess im an ex servicman who is currently a reservist and a firefighter..its not about the union its about being professional and fair ..something coleman is not ..he is a bitter insecure person who has a personal agenda ..your mind is a parachute james..its pays to open it ..

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