Counselling services available to the firefighters who responded to the Grenfell Tower fire have virtually disappeared after cuts imposed by Boris Johnson during his tenure as Mayor of London.
Firefighters’ union FBU says the number of counsellors trained to help firefighters process the traumatic scenes they witness on the job in the London Fire Brigade was cut from 14 to just two under Johnson, now foreign secretary in Theresa May’s minority government. Johnson’s administration also axed 13 fire engines.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “The absolutely devastating scenes that firefighters witnessed at Grenfell will stay with them for the rest of their lives. They are heroic men and women who just get on with the job and don’t complain but at the end of the day, they’re human and will be affected by what they see.
“The priority today is to make sure that everything possible is done to take care of their mental wellbeing after such a horrific disaster. We need more counsellors to look after them, not less.”
A London firefighter who attended the scene, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “It was absolutely horrific at Grenfell, and it’s still very, very raw. I have seen some really horrible things that I’ve never experienced seeing before and hope I will never see again. It will stay with me all my life. We were offered a session with a counsellor which I took up, and it did help, but nothing will get those images out of my mind.”