13/08/2012

'Culture Of Fear' For Firefighters At Work

Staff at the Northern Ireland Fire Service are working in a "culture of fear and mistrust", a report has found.

An investigation carried out by the Department of Health also highlighted unauthorised bonuses and outstanding grievances as causes for concern in the organization.

Embarrassing though this is for the body, there is no suggestion that fire fighting has been adversely affected.

The BBC reported the findings of the investigation before they were made public.

A new chief executive took up the temporary post at the Fire Service today.

Jim Wallace joins the organisation from Scotland, where he is employed by the government and has previous experience with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

His appointment follows three years in which the Fire Service has had three chief fire officers and chairmen.

According to the Northern Ireland Fire Service, Mr Wallace's appointment is "temporary to provide an opportunity for a fundamental and comprehensive review of the structures within the organisation".

The internal audit said there appeared to be "systemic problems which have been exacerbated by a lack of strategic direction and guidance from the very top of the organisation".

For instance, an independent audit carried out last year had 85 recommendations, many of which still are not implemented.

(NE)

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