Yorkshire fire service staff took almost 33,000 days off work due to mental health in four years

Fire service staff in the region took 32,962 days off work because of mental health problems between 2018 and 2022, leaving staff unable to work, FOI requests have revealed.

The biggest increase in the number of days off work due to mental health in the region was in North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, where firefighters saw an increase of 369 per cent

over five years.

Former firefighter Scott Rumblow, 36, was forced to retire from the fire service early because of the impact witnessing traumatic events had on his mental health.

Fire service staff in Yorkshire had more than 30,000 days off due to mental health issues in four years, new stats show  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)Fire service staff in Yorkshire had more than 30,000 days off due to mental health issues in four years, new stats show  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Fire service staff in Yorkshire had more than 30,000 days off due to mental health issues in four years, new stats show (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
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He was a firefighter for Humberside Fire and Rescue Service for 18 years before retiring in February 2022.

Mr Rumblow said: “There’s very little mental health support available in the fire service and you’re not given any training on how to deal with traumatic incidents.

“I realised it was either leave, or continue to deal with what I’m going through on a daily basis.”

He said there is little mental health support available for firefighters: “You’re told if you need to speak to anybody to ring occupational health.

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“In 18 years I was called after an incident only two or three times. They would ask how you are, and say they were there if you needed someone to talk to, but that was it.”

In Mind’s 2021 Blue Light survey, 61 per cent of fire service staff had experienced mental health problems.

And despite the Grenfell tragedy in 2017 which resulted in 17 members of London Fire Brigade being diagnosed with PTSD and another five being retired due to psychological damage, there is no regulatory body which oversees the standard of support available for firefighters.

The National Fire Chiefs Council provides guidance on what is expected by way of service delivery in terms of wellbeing, but individual fire service authorities are responsible for ensuring they have appropriate mental health support for their staff.

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In a statement, Humberside Fire and Rescue Service said: “The service has been continuously raising awareness surrounding mental health to support staff.

“In February 2017, the Service signed the Time to Change pledge, joining the growing number of emergency service employers and associations showing their commitment to empowering staff to seek help when they need it and talk about their own mental health.

“As part of the pledge, staff who volunteered were trained to become Blue Light Champions and support colleagues and signpost to further resources that staff can access.

“As a Service we are always seeking to break the stigma and offer many routes for staff to seek support.”

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North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service added: “The health and wellbeing of our staff is of utmost importance, and we fully recognise the pressures which come with a frontline role.

“Nationally, there has been a real emphasis on mental health and stress related sickness within the fire service, which we welcome. Here in North Yorkshire, it is something we have invested heavily in to try and help this.

“Throughout the service we have implemented a mental health first aider scheme, where a fully trained member of staff will help others recognise poor mental health and provide support, and where necessary, early intervention.”

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