Tuesday, 13 January 2009

The One That Just Wants It To Stop. . .

I despair. I really do despair. There is seemingly no limit to the extent that people will arse around with perfectly simple organisations and ideas and make them impossibly difficult and strewn with obstacles.

We are quite used to the Police being politicised. But the Fire Brigade? Before I pinpoint exactly what it is I'm talking about, I'll highlight the following story from September 2006 which I have lifted from 'Scilly News'.

The Islands' fire and rescue service has been criticised for failing to employ an adequate number of ethnic minority staff.

It has been accused of paying little regard to the government's equality and diversity policies.

The fire service regions of Cornwall, Cumbria, Isle of Wight, Isles of Scilly and Northumberland still do not have any ethnic minority workers, according to statistics released by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

'Except for London [fire] service, which has good strategies and policies, the general black and ethnic recruitment and representation is abysmal,' said Michael Nicholas, member of the Fire Brigades Union Black and Ethnic Minority Executive Council.

The Islands’ resident fire chief Alan Hicks said: 'Pro rata, the ethnic composition of the fire brigade is entirely consistent with and accurately reflects the ethnic composition of the wider community.”

He added that until recently the fire brigade had a home office dispensation regarding its ethnic make-up, but it had lapsed.

But he noted that the service had one female member of staff, so had exceeded its required quota for women.

A council spokesman said: “The council has no problem with ethnic inclusion but has no ethnics to include.”

Idiocy. If my house is burning to the ground, I'm not going to stand out the front shouting 'Off! Get off my rapidly diminishing property! Don't come back until you have a black woman, Muslim man and a Chinese amputee! You disgust me, you. . . you. . . ethnically homogenous elitists!' No of course I wouldn't, because a) my house would be burning to the ground, and, b) it doesn't bloody matter.

Anyhow, Al-Beeb has revealed today that the Scilly Isles next door neighbours, the Cornwall County Fire Brigade is in hot water as:

'While its staff are committed to providing an improved service for communities, and particularly for disadvantaged groups, the authority often does not test the effectiveness of its contribution to community projects.'

Do what now? Disadvantaged groups? What in the wide, wide world of sports have the Fire Brigade got to do with disadvantaged groups? Community projects? What? Well, call me a bluff old traditionalist, but I don't want the Fire Brigade to be involved in community projects, I want them to be putting out fires.

Why does there have to be this constant meddlesome hectoring? The Fire Brigade put out fires, or cut people out of cars that have crashed, or help pump out peoples' homes in the case of a flood. Are people in disadvantaged groups more likely to set fire to their houses? Will community projects help remote villages build their own hydraulic cutters and teach them how to get people out of crumpled cars?

For crying out loud.

I was intrigued as to how Cornwall Fire Service would 'begin the long term planning process to take the service forward, with ambitions to become an 'excellent' service in the future.' Does this mean that there are firefighters sat at Falmouth Fire Station going 'Fuck it,' when the bell goes off 'I'm finishing me pasty'? Or does it mean that every single aspect of our society must be measured, recorded, analysed and recorded on a stats sheet? What do you do if Wiltshire Fire Service performs better than Suffolk Fire Service? Is Mr. Smith in Ipswich going to call Swindon for help when he comes home to find the neighbours sat on his lawn toasting marshmallows and singing camp-fire songs?

There's a wonderful document linked to on the CCFB website, although if I were a resident of fair Kernow, I'd be restless in my bed at night and not at all confident that the Fire Brigade actually know what it is they are supposed to do, people that need to ask these questions really shouldn't be running a fire and rescue service.

1. What do you think the risks to our community are?
Ooooh, I dunno, things catching fire, stuff like that.

2. Do you think Cornwall County Fire Brigade understand these risks?
I should bloody hope so, sunshine.

3. How do you think Cornwall County Fire Brigade can better understand its communities' needs?
Not feeling the need to come round and ask me if I really want fires put out would be good fucking start.

4. What do you see as your priorities for Cornwall County Fire Brigade?
Oh for the love of God, I want the fire brigade to provide at every incident they attend, a prayer mat, an indication of which direction Mecca is in picked out on the floor in Chinese silks, a facepainting tent and a stall selling herbal tea, organic juice (pressed on the spot) and a selection of locally handmade cakes and pastries. Oh yes, and putting out FUCKING FIRES!

8. Thinking about the risks and priorities that you have already considered, what single statement can be used to describe what you would like Cornwall County Fire Brigade to achieve in the future?

I would like Cornwall County Fire Brigade to get an amateur team to the third round proper of the FA Cup, to put together a professional standard orchestra with a fondness for Wagner and to get round peoples' houses quickly to stop them from burning to the FUCKING GROUND.

And then of course there are usual irrelevant questions about your age, gender, ethnicity, disabilities, religion, sexuality, views on marmite, favourite colour etc, etc.

Are they asking these questions because they really don't know the answers? Or are they asking them because some know-nothing, pencil necked arseclown has decided that it is 'best practice' and ensures that when the auditors come calling to his building, he has some pathetic offering to demonstrate that he does something, unlike those wankers down in procurement. . .

We're all doomed.

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