A statement from the Chairperson of the Fire and Rescue Authority addressing concerns raised about the culture at TWFRS

Below is a statement from Cllr Phil Tye, the Chairperson of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority.

Cllr Tye has released a statement to address concerns raised by ITV last night (Thursday, March 23rd) about the culture at TWFRS.

“I am aware of the piece broadcast on ITV last night and understand that members of our community will be concerned.

“In my short time as Chairperson of the Fire Authority, I have spent considerable time in community fire stations across the region, often without any fire officers being present.

“I have spoken to staff, listened to their concerns and nobody has raised concerns around the culture within the Service, or made allegations similar to those we heard in the report on ITV.

“In fact, many of those staff members have described how Chief Fire Officer Lowther has instilled a culture where individuals have the confidence to speak up about any issues they may have.

“However, as the Chief has recognised, the behaviours described are completely unacceptable and have absolutely no place in this organisation.

“There may be staff members who are experiencing these behaviours and are suffering in silence. I want to work with the Service to ensure those individuals have the confidence to speak up, and that action will be taken.

“Staff can raise those concerns through the Service’s independent reporting tool SafeCall but they are also welcome to contact me directly and I will deal with those concerns in the strictest of confidence.

“I have had private conversations with the Chief Fire Officer and there are circumstances around the case involving the staff member who was promoted that cannot be disclosed to the media.

“He has fully briefed the Fire Authority and both myself, and my colleagues on the Authority, are supportive of him continuing in his position as Chief Fire Officer until his retirement later this year.

“When he first mentioned to me last year that he would be retiring, I was incredibly disappointed, because the improvements he has made in his time as Chief are clear to see.

“He knows there is always more the Service can do to improve and he will remain in post in the coming months as we seek to appoint his replacement. I have full confidence in his ability to lead the service during that time.”

Cllr Phil Tye, Chairperson of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority