The London Fire Brigade was last week taken out of the Engage process, a scheme of enhanced monitoring by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services.

Readers may recall that the brigade had been under enhanced monitoring following the damning November 2022 independent review which exposed it as institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic.

The review found that poor culture ran through the brigade and had done so for many years. Such a culture significantly hindered the firefighters’ ability to work together and trust each other, ultimately compromising their ability to deliver for all Londoners.

Simply put, poor culture has real consequences. 

The lifting of enhanced monitoring is evidence that the culture of the LFB has greatly improved and with it the ability of the brigade to keep Londoners safe.

Andy Roe, the Commissioner of the Brigade, has consistently led from the front, commissioning the Independent Review with support from the London Mayor, and taking action rather than making excuses.

Together with the Deputy Mayor for Fire, they have made it clear that more needs to be done to continue to improve the culture and to ensure that improvements do not slip backwards.

These reforms could not come at a more critical time. London is now grappling with an increased number of emergencies, from flooding and extreme weather events to unregulated lithium-ion batteries and the ongoing building scandal that leaves thousands living in unsafe and unsellable homes, so the ability for Londoners to have full confidence in the efficacy of the brigade is an imperative now more than ever. 

Londoners can now have renewed confidence in the London Fire Brigade’s ability to respond to emergencies. This is fantastic news and a real credit to Commissioner Andy Roe, who has brought in new training, new grievance procedures and higher standards for firefighters.

This news gives us cause not just for celebration, but for wider optimism, too.

If the London Fire Brigade can change, then so can other blue light services across the country. Improvements to the Brigade show us that change is possible with the right leadership and the right plan.

  • Anne Clarke is Labour London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden