Firefighters are suffering high levels of bullying, harassment and violence at work, a service-wide survey has revealed.
A study of 1,869 serving and ex-firefighters found that a third had been bullied or harassed, and a quarter verbally abused.
A fifth had witnessed sex discrimination and 13% witnessed racist incidents. One in 10 had also seen a physical assault in the workplace.
The survey also revealed that a significant proportion of senior and line managers were the people responsible for the inappropriate behaviour.
The findings prompted the government to launch a new national strategy to tackle the problem. Fire chiefs will have to report annually on progress and detail how they are improving employment practices.
Fire minister Parmjit Dhanda said: “No-one should be victimised, harassed or abused at work, and I want to see much greater commitment from managers at all levels to stamp out this menace wherever it occurs.”
Carol McCletchie, HR director at Cleveland Fire Brigade, insisted the service had been working hard to change the workplace culture.
“Encouraging behaviours in accordance with the service’s core values leaves no room for bullying and harassment, which has to be eradicated,” she said.