Sunday, 31 October 2010

When Did ‘Jobsworth’ Gain The Same Kind Of Social Cachet As ‘Brave Man’?

Over at ‘All Copped Out’, ACO points out the difference in attitudes of public sector workers:
"Gadget et al bleat on and on about health and safety and not being able to change a wheel on their motors, let alone for the despised MOP (Muppet Outside Police). Such ‘rules’ were around 30 years ago. We changed wheel for stranded people because we we were not such c***s as not to. Our two fingers went up to management, not the public. If the job was going to reprimand or sack us for doing it, then we lumped the uniform in a black bag and went back on the tools. We just couldn’t stand being the kind of toad who jobsworthed."
Today, that attitude is far, far away:
A man died after firefighters refused to rescue him from a frozen lake, an inquest heard yesterday.

Philip Surridge screamed ‘help me, please don’t let me die’ as he struggled in the water. But a fire crew sent to the scene wouldn’t go to his aid because they were not trained in water rescues.
Good grief!

A passer by, however, did his best. Luckily, there were no police around to stop him. But he was thwarted not just by the firemen’s refusal to join in, but their refusal to help anyone else do their job for them:
Mr Smith told the inquest: ‘I was getting very frustrated and angry with the fire crew. I felt the fire crew weren’t doing enough.
‘When I went to tie the rope around me my hands were too cold. I asked the firefighter to help. He said “I can’t. I just can’t” .’
No doubt he was too afraid to help this brave soul tie the rope because he feared being sued if anything went wrong, while Mr Smith was doing the job he had deemed too dangerous...

Unwilling to help, unwilling to assist others in their efforts to help. Yet as Quiet Man points out, pretty quick to chastise others for not doing their job, as perceived by Hugh, Pew, Barney McGrew and chums...

Of course, when suitably-trained men arrived, it was too much, too late:
By the time three boats and six specialist water rescue officers arrived soon afterwards, Mr Surridge had disappeared beneath the surface.
Are they ashamed of their behaviour? Are they holding their manhoods cheap now, for their lack of courage?

Reader, they are not.

The ‘proper procedures’ were followed, and so all is right with the world:
Crew manager Kevin Brown told the inquest he ordered his men not to enter the water as they only had ‘basic water awareness training’.
He said: ‘I decided it was inappropriate to go into the water because of temperatures and weather conditions and the fact that if someone had gone in, we only had a fire kit on with tracksuits and t-shirts underneath.’
Mr Smith didn’t even have that. Didn’t let it stop him, did it?

Will they do anything different in future?
Philip Pells, Northamptonshire fire and rescue service’s head of operations, told Northamptonshire coroner Anne Pember that fire crews would follow the same policy if a similar situation arose in the future.
You do realise, Mr Pells, that this isn’t standing your service in good stead as you prepare to strike on the busiest day (potentially) of the year?

That you’ll be relying on the image of ‘brave firemen ill-treated by an uncaring government’ that now looks to be, well, untrue?
Recording an accidental verdict on both men, Mrs Pember warned it was ‘quite frankly not worth the risk to human life’ of going into water to save animals.
Well, yes. But people do, indeed, think nothing of risking their lives for others.

They haven’t been trained out of it, you see.

And this is not an isolated example, either. Recently, in the 7/7 inquests, we heard how a fire crew would not venture into the tunnels until a member of the Underground staff officially told them the current was off. This was in spite of an exasperated police officer actually standing on the live rail to show them that it was off !

Where did we go so wrong? When we allowed a public sector quango to declare that bravery was no longer to be recommended? Or before that?

25 comments:

Quiet_Man said...

Charging the supervisor with manslaughter might just focus the attention of the others I suppose.

Jiks said...

What QM said.

Here we have, yet again, the emergency services not only failing to save lives but actively preventing actual humans from saving each other.

I can kind of understand if the ES guys are too cowardly to do what most people would regard as their job.

However to refuse to tie a rope around someone else, which clearly is not going to endanger their own precious skins, is more in the realms of active malevolence than mere uselessness.

Anonymous said...

Roll on US style municipal elections for everyone from Mayor to Police Chief to dogcatcher.

The local firemen (or their line manager) would probably be more reticent about enforcing the "elfnsafty" spiel if there was a strong possibility of them facing distraught relatives at the next town meeting/election hustings...

MTG said...

At the top of the most despised public servant list, police and firecrew dominate the headlines yet again, with customary stupidity and arrogance.

It becomes difficult to rank all the negative features of these public purse scavengers when laziness and incompetence are also considered. We are now informed that moonlighting in both secure positions has now comfortably elevated these 'workers' to high earner status.

"What's that...your house is on fire, Sir? We would love to help out but most of us are desk bound these days. Have you given any thought to where you would like to live next, Sir? Our leading fireman is a part time Estate Agent......."

The Twisted Fire Stopper said...

Where to start?
The Fire Service are getting slaughtered in the press and on blogs due to the shambolic handling of the London dispute, and I'm getting RSI trying to put the None- London side of things!

As a "public purse scavenger", I think I'm reasonably well qualified to comment on this story, but I'd suggest you get your facts from other places than the Daily Mail at the minute.
I can't condone the actions (or inactions)of the retained crew that turned up to this incident, but I can understand the reasons behind it.

There was a similar incident in Manchester 10 years ago

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/3697006.stm

The outcome of this tragedy was that Brigade managers are terrified of getting sued/prosecuted.

Health and safety really needs to be sorted out, both in the Police and Fire Service. We have had all equipment removed from our stations that would encourage a rescuer to enter the water, we are supposed to wait for a Technical Rescue unit that could be over the other side of the county.
We really have been ordered never to enter the water. It’s got to the point that on the way to a suspected casualty in the water, we have even discussed if the best swimmer on our watch could book off duty, so that if needed, he could dive in as a member of the public! Luckily for us, the boy had clamboured to the side on his own before we got there.
I could bore you with many more examples, but you’d think you were reading the Daily Mail.

As for second jobs, I know many of my colleagues do have them. What's the problem?
Working in London, but commuting to work? Again what's the problem?

I don't know any firemen on £50k+ a year, apart from senior officers. My pay is less than 28 and a half grand, with the odd hours overtime a month if we get a late shout.

I'll stop now, before I rant!

Anonymous said...

I do note that the Mail has cravenly switched comments on the drowning inquest story off.

Fire brigade jobsworth scum with blood on the their hands.

Daily Mail. The corpse of what once was a part of society.

Slowjoe

Akvavitix said...

A bit like Doctors who don't Doctor, Nurses who don't Nurse and Teachers who definitely don't Teach. The public sector is proving itself daily to not be worth tuppence. Sack the bloody lot of them. They are not fit for purpose.

Hateful bastards.

Anonymous said...

Health and safety is out of control and I have to wonder why. It really is too easy, simple and probably wrong to blame the compensation culture.

No, I am afraid that I think we are being trained, we must not use our initiative, we must not think for ourself, we must not deviate from rules.

You will do as your instructed without question, you will not save that person, you will shoot that dog, you will taser than 80 year old man.

There is more to this H&S nonsense than meets the eye.

RantinRab said...

Have a look at this one.

But when some idiot floods there engine when trying to cross this more than twenty of the brave buggers turn up along with a water rescue unit!

Anonymous said...

I think it would be fun to go round to Fire Brigade picket lines or the station at the heart of this story and hand out white feathers.

Slowjoe

Laban said...

Don't forget the West Mercia officers who sat on a riverbank for 90 minutes, waiting for a dive team to arrive, while a five year old girl drowned inside a submerged car.

microdave said...

@ Rab - "I saw several fire engines, two police cars, an ambulance and a fire and rescue dinghy."

Seems a bit over the top, a JCB would have done the job.....

SpiteK said...

This is totally fucking outrageous. The fire "officer" in charge needs a fucking good kicking, as do the firemen who allowed themselves to be so completely unmanned.

Shame on them. Shame.

James Higham said...

No doubt he was too afraid to help this brave soul tie the rope because he feared being sued if anything went wrong, while Mr Smith was doing the job he had deemed too dangerous...

Truly unbelievable, isn't it?

Trevor said...

Let's face it, we all try to avoid the boring bits of our jobs. It must be such a bummer for these heroes to have to interrupt those calendar shoots and put on some clothes to respond to an emergency call-out.

Bryan said...

I weep...

David Gillies said...

Every vacancy in the Fire Brigade is greatly over-subscribed. What do we infer from this? Answer: we're not paying them efficiency wages. So if they won't go above and beyond, which is why they are, ostensibly, so handsomely remunerated, then we should slash the wages the craven fuckers are getting. If they're not fit for purpose then why are we paying through the nose for them?

JuliaM said...

"Charging the supervisor with manslaughter might just focus the attention of the others I suppose."

No doubt. But the H&S executive would have several litters of kittens over it!

"...more in the realms of active malevolence than mere uselessness."

Pure selfishness. Unwilling to risk his life, or even his JOB.

"Roll on US style municipal elections for everyone from Mayor to Police Chief to dogcatcher."

I'll wait and see if it happens with the police first. I'm dubious we'll ever get it through. Too much opposition.

JuliaM said...

"We are now informed that moonlighting in both secure positions has now comfortably elevated these 'workers' to high earner status."

Indeed. The FBU has invited this MSM scrutiny with their proposed strike on Friday. They've only themselves to blame...

"The Fire Service are getting slaughtered in the press and on blogs due to the shambolic handling of the London dispute..."

Eventually, all unions overreach themselves. The miners strike should provide a salutary lesson.

"Health and safety really needs to be sorted out, both in the Police and Fire Service. "

No arguments here! But until they are...

"A bit like Doctors who don't Doctor, Nurses who don't Nurse and Teachers who definitely don't Teach. "

It's getting that way...

"...I think we are being trained, we must not use our initiative, we must not think for ourself, we must not deviate from rules. "

That does indeed seem to be the end result, intentional or not.

JuliaM said...

"Have a look at this one."

Gah! So much for a professional service, seamlessly pulling together...

"I think it would be fun to go round to Fire Brigade picket lines or the station at the heart of this story and hand out white feathers."

Uncanny! I very nearly gave this post that very title!

"Don't forget the West Mercia officers,,,"

I did indeed forget that one. How could they? Check out the spokescreature's statement to the press:

"Once they had arrived it took only a further 12 minutes to rescue the child from the submerged vehicle."

Good oh! By then, of course, it was far too late. So what do they expect, a medal?

"Shame on them. Shame."

Shame has left this country. No-one feels it any more, it seems.

There's always someone else to blame...

"If they're not fit for purpose then why are we paying through the nose for them?"

Good point.

allcoppedout said...

just testing

allcoppedout said...

Good to see the interest in this. I suspect something really dreadful underlies it all - maybe even Gadget's inability to come out in the open and sort things out, like the great 'sorter-out' these cops think they are in their own tiny worlds? We seem to be living in a world that is this jobsworthness writ large. They can't see their own role in it and demonise anyone pointing this out.

Chuckles said...

Health and Safety has a lot to do with it, as I suspect does the never ending quest to reduce all jobs to 'process' and box ticking, as this allows diversity and the appointment of 'the right sort of people' to previously unattainable jobs.
In times past such jobs attracted a certain sort of person and mindset, which is clearly no longer the case. Now it is just a job, like any other job.

Richard North comments on an interesting, and possibly unintended, consequence of such developments -

http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2010/11/of-rebellions-and-revolutions.html

Hilfe and Safety said...

Couldn't they have thrown the poor man a guideline?

They have lots of those.

JuliaM said...

"We seem to be living in a world that is this jobsworthness writ large."

And I see no signs of it getting better...

"In times past such jobs attracted a certain sort of person and mindset, which is clearly no longer the case. Now it is just a job, like any other job."

Yes, it would once - like the police force - have been the sort of job that required a 'type'; big, burly, capable, self-reliant, male.

Is it a coincidence that the services have gone downhill since the need to relax the standards so women and other minorities could also join? I wonder...

"Couldn't they have thrown the poor man a guideline?

They have lots of those."


LOL!