Brian Coleman and the Fire Brigade

I posted a ‘thank you’ to Hornsey firefighters for coming out on a 999 call to my house a little while back – with a very brief description of what had happened. At the end of last week, Brian Coleman, Conservative Chair of the London Fire Authority was all over the media attacking me for doing so. Although the Fire Brigade says I did the right thing to call them out – and would only have sent firefighters if they thought it necessary – he says I should pay; that it was comparable with calling them out for a pet stuck in a tree; he has called me ‘dizzy’, ‘an airhead’; ‘an utter disgrace’ and so on.

What I would say about this – and all the comment that has ensued in the media (Mr Coleman actually sent out press releases to attack me) – is that I and my two daughters were terrified and that is the point. The corner of the house was shaking. The noise was extreme. In those moments – it is the clear message of the Fire Brigade that steered me through. And their advice is if you think you are in danger get out of the house and call the Fire Brigade – which is exactly what I did.

Thank goodness there was no explosion – but it was serious and when the engineer came the next day he said that the jammed motor had been sparking and as well as causing the shaking and the noise and it could have ignited. The Hornsey firefighters, when they came, checked everything and made sure it was safe.

So as I simply followed the official advice of the Fire Brigade – I have been astonished that someone in Brian Coleman’s position (i.e. chair of the London Fire Authority) would undermine that message from the Fire Service – just to have a pop at someone in a different political party.

A London Fire Brigade spokeswoman said: “If it’s obvious that there has been an ongoing problem with the boiler, then you can call a plumber. But if your boiler suddenly starts making strange noises in the middle of the night, call the fire brigade.” Mine was the latter situation – and so both the Fire Commission and the firefighters on the night said I did the right thing.

As you may have seen – there’s been a fair few comments on this blog, so I just wanted to highlight a couple:

Hi as a serving firefighter, I can honestly say you did exactly the right thing in calling out your local fire service. The fire service has a responsibility to serve the community in all ways. Community safety is at the forefront of what we do, we would much rather see early action being taken than having to deal with the aftermath of a catastrophic failure. Your boiler could have potentially been life threatening either through a defective flue or indeed an explosion. May I suggest both a carbon monoxide detector and a smoke detector be fitted if you do not have either. Ready to serve and protect.


i am a fire fighter at hornsey fire station and although i am not a Libdem supporter and i was not on duty when you called us, i would like you to know that you did the correct thing. our job is to serve and protect the community and if you felt you and your family were in danger then you have a duty of care to call us asap. brian colemans comment shows how little he knows about the role of the LFB and his statement that your were dizzy is quite frankly extremely sexist and condescending, but what else can we expect from one of the mayors hand picked cronies.

I will be writing to the Commissioner of the London Fire Service – on two counts. Firstly, on the issue of how he will deal with a Chair of the Authority who is happy to send out a message which is completely contradictory to the ethic and central message of the Fire Service. Secondly, in a service in which there is a strong shift to move away from any discrimination or sexism – to ask what action he will take over having a Chair who thinks it is OK to denigrate women in the way Brian Coleman did. Those who know Mr Coleman say this is typical. But I don’t think you can hold such a responsible position and then say – well it’s politics, so it doesn’t count.

0 thoughts on “Brian Coleman and the Fire Brigade

  1. Perhaps Mr Colman is envious of all the attention Sharon Shoesmith is getting because she was not up to the task and wants a little for himself. And it cannot really be said that he does not meet the criteria.

  2. Lynne,What you did was wrong – and you should have known better, especially as a former member of LFEPA.I look forward to a cheque being in the post to the London Fire Authority for the £250 you have wasted.Next time .. just turn the heating off!Maybe your just wasting our time by being our MP?

  3. Haringey Resident – I quoted two firefighters in the post, both of whom said I did the right thing. Listening to what firefighters say on this topic seems good common sense to me!

  4. Common sense could not be all that common otherwise Mr Coleman and his illogical backers would have some

  5. Well said Lynne. Haringey resident seems completely ignorant of the fact that members of the public do not actually summon the fire brigade. They phone 999 and the phone operators decide whether to summon the fire brigade based on the information they are given by the caller. All the comment from actual fire fighters, their union and fire brigade managers here and elsewhere confirms that not only was your call genuine (which was obvious anyway) but that the operators followed procedure correctly and made the right judgment. Most of all, the comments of your engineer who examined the boiler the next day, saying that it could have ignited, confirm that, not only was your call genuine and the fire brigade were right to attend the scene, but that if you had not called the fire brigade when you did, you could well have ended up calling them later to a much more costly incident.

  6. In your letter you should also point out that Mr Coleman’s message – and the accompanying threat to sue people for the cost of the call out – is dangerous and placing lives at risk.

  7. If Lynne Featherstone is wrong on this then it follows that the firemen were also wrong. They said she was right. So, we are now expected to believe that phoning a fire brigade is wrong, that to even risk erring on the side of caution is no longer worth the candle, that firemen do not know what their job is. Are they to be sent off to the gulag for reeducation and while there work off the £250?

  8. Well I’ve looked into both sides of the story and read up on both politicians.Seems to me they are both as silly as each other and BOTH Lynne and Brian seem to have a tendency to waste taxpayers money.The only person who comes out of the whole saga with any credit is Lynne’s daughter.

  9. A very measured and statesmanlike response to a vile and sexist attack, Lynne. You do us proud.

  10. The entire story is nonsense! There are more important things going on in the world, and thus this story is a huge joke!

  11. Well said Lynne. You did that with grace and civility and without calling Brian Coleman some of the things that I might be tempted to call him in that situation… ;-)That said, I would much rather follow the advice of London firefighters than the odious twerp who seems somehow to be in charge of them!

  12. Publicity through controversy is Colemans way. If he did not resort to these low tacticks he would find it dificult to get a mention in the media at all.The man suffers from Napolian syndrome.

  13. Its heartening to know the muppet nation is being lead and shown example, by worthy, Right Honourables.Im sure we all feel safer in our beds, knowing when we have an emergency the fire brigade could be otherwise engaged.

  14. Lynne,Brian Coleman clearly has a problem with women. He’s probably just jealous because you’ve got a better job than him !I’m sure with all of the free lunches he’s scoffed recently he has plenty of experience of loud noises, thunderous vibrations and airlocks in his system. Check the full list here :-

  15. Of course sexism runs right through this whole silly episode. I can’t be the only one to notice, though, that as you heap praise on (mainly male) firefighters you’re also vilifying (mainly female) social workers and Sharon Shoesmith. Public service is something girls do as well as boys.

  16. This man is obnoxious! Cameron has tried to remove the “Nasty Party” label from the Tories but Coleman has brought it back with such ill considered and boorish remarks and damned bad advice!

  17. The comments are all very amusing and the political point scoring understandable (given the context) but surely a serious point is being missed. The average household boiler is a thing of mystery to most owners and we have all read ‘gas explosion’ stories with less fortunate outcomes. Isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?If you have a similar experience, it might be worth taking a look at before calling the fire brigade. Otherwise, Lynne appears to have done the responsible thing.Alan

  18. I would not wish to have a next door neighbour, who decided (perhaps because they thought Mr. Coleman was going to fine them 250 pounds ) not to call the fire brigade because their gas boiler was making a funny noise, as an explosion might well take out my house as well. Mr Coleman should be formally asked to withdraw his attack, as being inconsistent with the promotion of public safety.

  19. I’m sorry, is this what MPs are paid to do? Instead of fighting over who was right or wrong, can you get on with some er ‘work’?!

  20. You know if Brian Coleman is that worried about £250 he would never be ferried around London in a chauffeur driven car at Council Taxpayers expense so he can wear an old chain of office that he insisted on bringing back from the old GLC days. He eats his way around London for free as well. He has the highest level of expense claims of any London Assembly member and he of all people has the brass neck to criticise you?? He is an odious twerp who gets a lot of free grub, taxis and chauffeur driven car journeys as well as those all important “fact finding” missions to Cyprus.

  21. if in doubt always phone 999. BUT i do think in this incident it sounds like you just paniced, had a knee jerk reaction and phoned 999 rather than using some common sense and just turning the boiler off! i was in a very similar situation and believe me the sudden noise is frightening, but my first thought was “oh its comming from the boiler i better turn the heating off immedietly in case it explodes” which i did and then called a plumber who fixed it, my concern with you is that the time you spent calling 999 would have been better spent JUST TURNING THE HEATING OFF thus reducing the risk of fire that would have increased every min you spent sitting outside.
    i would have expected a more problem solving common sense approach from my M.P. But that does not mean i condone people who phone 999 when they are in fear of an emergency.