Why I support firefighters

It started with a late friend of mine campaigning against to the Coastguard Service and I asked: “Why don’t we extend that to all emergency services?” And that’s what we did.

My support for the Coastguard led me, indirectly, to my biggest project so far – raising awareness of the many lifeboats that are not unaffiliated with the RNLI. That took a year of research but it’s routine now.

I don’t have any paramedics among my followers, not even the pair who drove me home from hospital recently. But one firefighter is continuing to administer a Facebook page for Emergency Services that I started but am no longer involved with.

I always had difficulty defending the police against cuts, and it got harder! Two ex-cops are now ex-friends because we disagreed about police violence being OK if sanctioned by the Home Office. I still count some serving officers among my friends, but that’s more to do with animal welfare.

Firefighters have always helped me to support them. One of them provided the photos I’ve used in the above montage to show the variety of tasks that firefighters undertake. Another said he’ld like to make me an honorary member of FBU if it were in his power, I think he got his wish. Matt Wrack is the only General Secretary of a trade union who follows me, including my own – Unite Community. If that’s not enough to make me an honorary member I don’t know what it is 😀

In one dispute, happily resolved, I had comrades on both sides – the FBU Brigade Secretary and chair of the Fire Authority, who was himself a former firefighter and has since resigned from the Labour Party!

More seriously, fire and rescue services have suffered so many cuts that they’re struggling to fulfil their statutory duties, much less other duties – such as large animal rescue and swift water rescue – tasks for which that they’re uniquely qualified! One of the few petitions I’ve started myself, rather than promoting petitions started by others, was for flood rescue to be made a statutory duty for fire and rescue services in England as it is in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Firefighters undertake these tasks anyway, but funding has to come from other budgets.

I have to mention my marra Tommy Richardson, a swiftwater rescue special from Tyne & Wear FRS, who accompanied on my York Walk in 2021 to raise funds for York Rescue Boat. Tommy provided all the photos and gets pride of place 😀

If Sunak goes ahead with his anti-union policies I don’t know where he expects to find firefighters to replace those he sacks? Utter madness 🙄 Of course we know where he’ll recruit trained nurses, from developing nations where they’re badly needed but are paid even less than they would be here 😠 Those whom the gods wish to destroy the first make insane, and I can think of nothing more insane than this attack on emergency services. Let’s not forget that when Boris Johnson was Mayor of London he closed ten fire stations and several people died as a result of the fire engines having further to travel!

Of course I support ALL workers out on strike – they’re not just striking for themselves as right wing media would have us believe but for all of us! I was preparing to stand on an FBU picket line, having been offered a lift by a firefighter who lives in the same village, but the latest news is that they’ve received a revised offer that the executive have recommended should be accepted. There will now be a new ballot and strike action is still on the cards if members vote NOT to accept it.

I must recommend this book by one of my friends which I read while sitting in a drafty A&E corridor having pre-ordered it. I found it both entertaining and informative.

UP IN SMOKE: Stories From a Life on Fire by Leigh Hosy-Pickett https://geni.us/UpInSmoke

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