Female firefighters in Kent, England are said to be forced to wear their underwear in front of male colleagues, and even in front of members of the public at the scene of a fire, due to “disturbing practices” sanctioned by the department, and this has been denounced by the union.
“Fire stations are places of work – and it is unacceptable to put firefighters in a position to remove their underwear in full view of their colleagues, or even the public,” FBU General Secretary Matt Warack said Monday.
Thus, the union condemns the “chronic inaction on the part of management”, which would have endorsed the “useless and degrading practice” of forcing firefighters to undress at stations “before putting on fire kits during operational incidents”.
In some cases, employees will be forced to change their clothes at the scene of the fire, behind the open doors of the fire engine, in full view of the public.
“To be clear, this is not common practice elsewhere; the accepted practice is for firefighting gear to be worn over cotton work clothes,” the Secretary-General continued.
However, in the face of the facts, the Kent Regiment’s Fire Chief, Anne Millington, should have defended the practice last May, declaring that “taking off underwear can prevent overheating,” British media reported.
According to her, it was the employees who asked that the suit not be worn over their underwear, which gets wet with sweat and can “get very uncomfortable”.
Individuals who choose not to wear pants underneath [du kit de feu] They should be mindful of their own privacy/dignity and that of their colleagues when undressing behind open fire department doors,” he said, according to the Guardian.
For the federation, this response from a National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) symbol illustrates the extent of these “very cultural issues that we’re trying to eliminate” in emergency services, according to Matt Wrack.
Last March, a study conducted among English fire brigades revealed cases of bullying, discrimination and harassment in one in five establishments.
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