Opposition

Fire Brigades Union backs anti-fracking campaign

pnr-190102-frack-free-lancashire.jpg

Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site near Blackpool, 2 January 2019. Photo: Frack Free Lancashire

The Fire Brigades Union voted today to oppose fracking in the UK and to offer support to anti-fracking campaigns.

The decision, at the union’s annual conference in Blackpool, came after two local opponents of fracking talked to delegates and distributed leaflets.

The motion, from the Shropshire FBU branch, noted the earth tremors in Lancashire linked to fracking by Cuadrilla at Preston New Road.

It also said that in granting permission for fracking at the site, the government appeared to have overturned the refusal of the scheme by local councillors.

Climate change and its effects on future generations was “now of the highest importance”, the motion added.

It said:

“Conference believes that FBU policy should be to support renewable energy sources in preference to burning more carbon fuels.

“Therefore Conference instructs the FBU to oppose fracking in the UK and instructs the Executive Council to support campaigns against fracking”.

Nick Danby, one of the campaigners who spoke to delegates, said he was delighted by the vote. He said:

“We will continue to campaign against the shale gas industry here in Lancashire and elsewhere as we regard it as fundamentally unsafe and completely incompatible with climate change targets.”

The other campaigner, Miranda Cox, said:

“We spoke to many delegates and I am pleased to report they are fully supportive of our campaigns.”

39 replies »

  1. Wonderful, this will be interesting when the police try to use the brigade equipment to remove protesters again. Fracking is finished.

    • Fantastic news and thank you all the members of the Fire Brigades Union, it is your expertise and experience and your lives that are put on the line with these dangerous fossil fuel operations and increasing climate change effects.

      Our children and future generations will hold your declaration in high esteem and condemn all those who still cannot or will not oppose onshore high volume high pressure unconventional hydraulic fracking and also the associated avoidances and obfuscation of the word operations.

    • Jono

      It will be interesting to see if the unions support for the anti fracking movement is translated into a list of activities the union does not want their members to carry out, being activities with their remit.

      And how that is managed by the Fire Brigade itself independent of what the union thinks.

      • hewes62 – Removing a surfer from a truck isn’t within the firemen’s remit. The incident at Kirby Misperton where the police called Fire and Rescue to remove a surfer won’t occur again. As the firemen have now said, re the incident when the police called them to remove a surfer from a truck. The person was not in danger and neither needed or wished to be rescued. No property and no one else was in danger. Therefore it can’t be claimed to be within their remit.

        • Pauline

          Yes, again as other replies took time. The private firm that does remove unwilling people will no doubt be ready for such an event. This may be better as they should have the specific skills and equipment to bring the person down without harm, rather than the fire brigade, who do not specialise in that activity.

          What would be in their remit is to visit such sites and familiarise themselves with the layout and expected response. I imagine that this would continue.

    • Hi Jono, Perhaps an obvious move would be to charge the operators for the Fire Brigades services, just as the police are paid by the government to prevent peaceful opposition against fossil fuel opporations. The police should also be charged to the operators for the police actions on their behalf.

      Perhaps all emergency services should be charged directly to the operators by a bond or a compulsory insurance scheme since private hydrocarbon operations are so potentially volatile in every sense of the word.

      The NHS services should also be paid directly by the private operators as the NHS is also under severe attack by this governments privatisation agenda.

      The private fossil fuel operators have been riding on the back of increasingly endangered public tax payer paid for emergency services for far too long, time to make them pay up or go away.

      • A good idea given the tax breaks and legislation changes set up for these companies, plus so many of them being companies registered off shore most probably to avoid…..paying tax on any UK profits, should they ever make any!

        • I presume that also applies to Britain’s largest wind farm which is owned by a company based in spain

  2. Good idea

    A money making scam and gov could use to raise cash.

    Swingeing charges for anyone using a propane gas bottle ( barbecue or caravan maybe ), ditto fossil powered car owners ( a bond when you buy a car, over and above existing tax ), ditto for any car which charges its battery from it engine. A bond for every fuel station, gas bottle store, gas pipe, petrol pipe, gas boiler, fuel tank ( more for LPG powered homes ) bottle of lighter fuel et al working up to the refineries I guess.

    Meanwhile the only call out to any fracking or small onshore site in the UK in the last 2 years has been a false alarm for Rathlin ( excluding call outs to remove protestors ), I suspect. So for that industry alone the bond would be a few quid, compared to caravan or car fires, which is where the money would be.

    Likewise any person owning a ladder should pay a bond to the NHS for likely treatment from falling off, motorbike owners ditto. Maybe all the population should pay a bond depending on how much they are likely to cost the NHS?

    Or maybe onshore oil and gas extraction does not exercise the emergency services much in terms of hydrocarbon risk or slips trips and falls.

  3. You raise some “good” points, so why do you sprinkle them such garbage.

    Never mind hewes, perhaps calls for private corporations to pay bonds or be forced to apply for insurance in the event of a call out for the tax payers paid for emergency services are just crank conspiracy theories?

    Stranger things have been proposed haven’t they?

    An own goal.

    Ho hum

    • Phil C

      Good oh, but they were just for fun. And which bit was garbage?

      Seriously

      I think that high risk industries already pay lots of tax, and business tax covers their requirements from the emergency services, or any further payment to the local emergency set up, such as a contribution to HEPS ( Humberside Emergency Services ), say.

      Where their industry requires specialist skills or equipment that the local services do not have then they should certainly provide their own as training can be quite specific. Hence the need for their own ER plans as enshrined in law.

      Indeed, during exercises at COMAH sites it was one persons duty to explain to the fire brigade that they wait at the gate, as the site response required trained personnel … primarily to isolate any release.

      As both the company and all who worked there paid tax then the service was already paid for. Indeed, the presence of a COMAH site was often cited as a reason to have a local fire engine, which, given the call out rate to a site ( grass fires, bomb scares etc ) of once every 10 years or less, was clearly there for others.

      We could look back at the coal industry, which had its own rescue brigade for underground response plus equipment. But used the fire brigade on pit top, as well as the ambulance ( to get you to hospital, no crew went underground ) as the pit ambulance was scrapped in the 1980s. As the coal board ran staggering losses no doubt it was all funded by the tax payer.

      One of the issues discussed at the time was the multiple provision of emergency services, primarily an ambulance, in an area. The council ( staunch labour ) preferred a few pence on the business rates and for the council / gov to provide the service, to benefit all and be cheaper. Which is what hapenned.

      If we go back to the old days then no doubt business would want a reduction in rates and also claim tax relief on the insurance.

      Re a bond, re instating the site is a given, and is appropriate. However a bond for ER services is not, as cash in a fund cannot be spent on the services prior to an event. The council take a view as to the need for Er services and their likely cost is on the business rates, as noted above. So far, councils are OK with that.

      Sent from my iPad

      >

      • Ha! Ha! Garbage was your term old thing, and it applies to your answer here by association, however, that being your term, i simply point to this as an example of your own complicity in that respect.
        Enjoy!
        Enjoy!
        “Swingeing charges for anyone using a propane gas bottle ( barbecue or caravan maybe ), ditto fossil powered car owners ( a bond when you buy a car, over and above existing tax ), ditto for any car which charges its battery from it engine. A bond for every fuel station, gas bottle store, gas pipe, petrol pipe, gas boiler, fuel tank ( more for LPG powered homes ) bottle of lighter fuel et al working up to the refineries I guess.”
        I knew you would fall at your own self defined hurdle sooner or later, only i didnt have to wait very long did i?
        The bond and insurance situation is indeed covered in the domestic insurance respects you mention there isn’t it. The demand for a bond or insurance of sufficient amount to cover a private fossil fuel operation is the subject we are speaking about here isn’t it, not a domestic situation that is all ready covered by personal, vehicular and house insurance, but perhaps that is an interesting indication of the essential requirements for such a provision isn’t it? Just up the anti sufficiently and there you have the very provision that is becoming increasingly apparent and necessary. And, knowing the present increases in insurance subscriptions, those for a site that potentially deals with volatile products such as gas and oil and the many additives and dangerous operations, the amounts would be substantial and the penalties for lax and lazy accidents severe in financial terms.
        Anyway, back to the subject.
        Referring back to the Rathlin call for emergency services. That was more revealing of Rathlins inability, or unwillingness to communicate or speak to the emergency services or the monitors themselves that caused the call out in the first place.

        I have been present at many construction sites myself, including those sites that handles petrochemicals, though on the downstream side, and there was always a nominated engineer present at all times, whose job it was to monitor events and liaise with the emergency services, whether that be just a daily update on operations, particularly the potentially hazardous operations, and to inform them of any accident or event that may have led to a call out either to call it off, or explain that it was not necessary to attend and an official record kept of such events.

        The fact that Rathlin did not have, apparently either a nominated person present, or any intention of contacting the emergency services or speaking to the monitors to allay their fears of a potentially disastrous event and tell them either to cancel the call out, or not make one, that failure would in my experience, be a contravention of the operational protocols and would be severely dealt with and remedied.

        The rapidity and venom that was spat out towards the monitors for daring to call the emergency services at the event of a very loud bang, which i might add was their public duty, could have been prevented by someone simply coming to the gate to explain that nothing serious had occurred and then tell them and the emergency services that there was not a life threatening problem.

        But Rathlin chose to ignore both ways of defusing the potential problem and only sought to discredit the monitors by the screams of rage we saw portrayed here. Whether that was a deliberate action, or non action, remains with those who love such things as those crank conspiracy theories, maybe you could enlighten us on that aspect.

        In my view, that failure of communication by Rathlin to the external emergency services should have been compensated by a bond or an insurance claim, because it was an unnecessary call out that wasted their time and money, and because of the icy conditions, represented a real danger to the Fire Brigade personnel themselves.

        That claiming of a bond or on the insurance, would have two effects on Rathlin.

        1. They would be more responsible in their communication with monitors and the emergency services.

        2. The amount claimed by the Fire Brigade would be counted against the operation and hence would have dissuaded them from being so lax and lazy with the regulations and their responsibility to comply to them and their responsibility to the tax payer paid for emergency services.

        Again we come to the subject of self regulation and the lack of any real consequences and penalties for any accident or failure to obey the regulations. That only serves to make the operators lax and lazy and not to give a damn if an accident occurs and how expense and unnecessary inconvenience, and the danger to the Fire Brigade personnel themselves.

        So that little episode was a case in point wasnt it, and the subject of a bond or insurance only becomes more highlighted by that event.

        It may only be estimated by the bond holder or the insurer who much that would have cost or any other event that would have been a potential far greater danger in a site dealing with potentially explosive materials.

        So, no, i disagree with you, a bond and/or an insurance would benefit everybody and would as such tighten up such lax and lazy proclivities that Rathlin, and many others have displayed by their ignoring and avoiding of the regulations they agreed to and the costs and dangers they represent to the local residents and the emergency service personnel themselves.

        • Phil C

          1. Rathlin and the Fire Brigade Call out.

          I disagree with your interpretation of the events as you lay them out.

          Primarily on the response by the company.

          It seems that the on site event was not deemed to be one that required the emergency services by the site.
          They did not phone for them.

          When such an incident occurs on a small site the person in charge of the site has a number of actions to take, the first is to determine what has happened and if anyone has been injured and formulate a response plan.

          Basically in the order. People, Environment, Plant, Process

          In this case it would seem that they determined that the ER services were not required.

          They then had no reason to phone them up and tell them they were not required. Indeed they would be busy enough sorting out the immediate event.

          Hence in my opinion the action taken seems reasonable. There is no need to keep phoning the ER services to tell them they are not required.

          That the protestors had called the service would not be immediately apparent to the person in charge, who would be concentrating on the immediate action at hand.

          2. Rathlin Responsible Person

          You allege that it is a fact that Rathlin did not have either a nominated person present, or any intention of contacting the ER services, although later you say apparently.

          I disagree. Firstly neither you or I have carried out an investigation to determine the facts.

          Secondly there is no evidence that they do not have a responsible person on site ( you have inferred this )

          Thirdly, there is no evidence that Rathlin were unwilling to contact the ER services, for, as noted above, they had not called them, hence , calling ER services to say they are not wanted is not standard practice.

          In my opinion this would be in line with their ER plan ( if invoked).

          Hence in my opinion there is a responsible person on site and that they did not act in manner you wish they had, does not mean they do not exist.

          3. Cancelling the callout

          The job of the responsible person is primarily to the site and event in hand, not to worry about what people outwith the site are saying to the ER services. That is something to deal with post event. A large site may have the luxury of getting info out to protestors quickly, but it is not a prime objective.

          Overall I feel that your intense dislike of Rathlin and thehydrocarbon industry has clouded your judgement in this case.

          4. Rapidity and venom-spat out at the protestors

          The discussion on DOD had a variety of views but mine was that it was reasonable for the protestors to call, . Indeed I have entertained the fire service with cups of tea and biscuits when they have turned up unannounced, called out for various reasons to a COMAH site or mine.

          However the level of feeling over the issue here and at the site, does not have any bearing on the need or not for a bond.

          5. Failure to communicate and the bond

          You link your implied failure to cancel the fire brigade to the need for a bond.
          However, Rathlin have no responsibility or duty to cancel a call out made by a member of the public. Indeed I be,i eve that the Emergency Services would still turn up ( some comment on that assumption by others would be welcome ).

          6. Regular liaison with the ER services

          This is typically done twice a year at a COMAH site, be it a chat or site visit, plus whatever is going on across the services. There is no evidence in the DOD report as to that level of liaison between Rathlin and the ER services, and as it is not a COMAH site, one would not expect it to be onerous.

          I do not see that you make a case for a bond, neither in the case of Rathlin, and certainly not for the hydrocarbon industry in general.

          Indeed you intense dislike for the industry ( as expressed in past posts ) may have clouded you judgement.

          Back to other issues …..

          Bond for propane bottle…. I told you it was not serious, but good to see you get your fussy out over it and I hope you feel better.

          Laying a trap….Good that you inform readers here that you have and will be laying verbal traps to trip up the unwary. Sound a bit sad, but if it makes you feel better it must be a good idea.

          Conspiracy theory…..I do not see one in the dialogue at the gates of Rathlins operations, but I see you are cooking one up.

          You say that the police are paid by the government to prevent peaceful opposition against fossil fuel operations. That the police are paid by the government is true. They are also paid from council tax ( as I see in my bill ). My view is that they are paid to enforce the law and there is a spectrum of how this is done.
          Just so we nip that one in the bud

          • Ha! Ha!

            I am disinclined to acquiesce to your request….means no.

            Clearly you are desperate to close down this Rathlin call out issue, it must really be a major embarrassment to Rathlin for you to be called in to have to spin it out to these frankly desperate lengths yet again?

            You ought to choose your “friends” more carefully old thing.

            Damage limitation does seems to be your speciality doesn’t it? It is interesting to see the pattern emerging.

            However my dear friend, it was you that raised the subject of the Rathlin call out, not me. So you only have yourself to blame dont you. Slap wristies.

            You say many things here that simply are not true, or are the usual only too familiar avoidances’ of the truth and prevarications.

            I disagree with your interpretation of events and most of everything else you say too. But you knew that didn’t you, that’s why all those rather childish little digs and jibes you like to toss around, but let’s leave it there shall we.

            You are wrong of course, but in the interests of Drill or Drop page space, let’s move on.

            Until next time hewes62’s.

            Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

            • Hewes62 thanks for your summary which I agree with. Having worked as the lead drilling supervisor on many sites in conjunction with the toolpusher we always had appropriate coordination with the police, fire and ambulance services. There were no swampys at our sites – what Phil calls monitors so I have no experience of an external uninformed and irrelevant third party calling the fire brigade but I did see the video. Perhaps they should put a bond up for wasting police and fire brigade time and money?

              • Paul Tresco

                Thanks. I am a bit wary of any issue that stop or affects how a site contacts the emergency services for help.

                While in VN half the airport burned down ( the old one ) as when they had a fire, the on site chaps dare not phone the fire brigade on case they got into trouble. They phoned the boss, in the middle of the night, but no reply.

                Indeed, at my first ER exercise at the power station,the plant operator said he would not phone the fire brigade ( as it said he should for certain events … primarily fires ) in case they got angry with him.

                A patch was put in place and the brigade invited to a number of face to face chats and meals to sort it out.

                But you can imagine people thinking, as they reach for the phone for help, hmmmm, we may have to pay for this service, I had better check with someone higher up just in case the bond is so big it would be better that we just struggle on alone. Ho hum. Or better, say it was not us who phoned, but now you are here will you help us for free?

            • Phil C

              As you know from past experience I would be happy to discuss Rathlins and the protestors response to the Fire Engine call out, and the issue of a bond connected or separate to that , until the cows came home. So I am in no hurry to close any discussion.

              Yes, I raised the issue of Rathlin as it is one of the few call outs reported on here on DOD, as example of a false alarm. I was not surprised you spun it as you did. Desperate times I guess ( although I am not sure anyone on this board is desperate, even though it is a well used word ).

              There are many examples available of real call outs to which the issue of a bond could be discussed, Buncefield coming to mind.

              I am not sure where damage limitation comes into it.

              If you think I have said things that are simply untrue then you should say so, be they untruths or prevarications in your opinion.

              But happy to leave it there as we agree to disagree which is fine.

              Sunday went well tho the angle grinder gave up the ghost and a new one bought. The hedgehog highways on the estate have been blighted by concrete gravel boards due to an influx on new owners ( who like fencing ) , and following negotiations slots are being cut in them at ground level. The local fence man has promised to source the odd board ready cut, but we shall see.

  4. Nice one Fire Brigade Union!

    Indeed now the police officers union should follow suit!

    Or do their officers enjoy inflicting harm on vulnerable climate protectors too much to stop?

  5. You have to have sympathy with the Fire Brigade. Will need all their free time to put out spontaneously combusting Teslas! (But perhaps not around PNR.)

  6. I hope the fire brigade union will support getting of their fossil fuel powered vehicles & pumps & bring the horse drawn fire tenders out of the museums, & pump water through canvas hoses with hand pumps! I bet the delegates got very hot under the collar with the presentations about those tiny earth tremors at PNR & had to be hosed down.

  7. Well, John since average solar panel load factors in the UK are only @10%, & there is zero regulation that solar panels here ijn the UK are installed and maintained to optimse their appualing performance, and the bulk are imported with their manufacturing emissions offshored to to those countries with much poorer environmental regulations compared here in the UK (pre Brexit) – I hope you factor that in with your naiive post. It is really good that onshore wind is not encouraged as you will see that in the anti fracking polls show impact on the landscape is high on public opinion’s negatiive perception about fracking – I am sure they would be even more alarmed by the impact of windfarms covering this green & pleasant land. Get real!! Do you know how many sea eagles are killed by offshore windfarms? No? I thought not.

  8. Well, good morning folks, its Sunday again, and its the 32nd Sunday since fracking was revived to transform the gas industry and extract all that gas, but then fell foul of their own agreed gold standard world class regulations. The attempts to overturn those regulations came to nought and the efforts to make exploration a Nationally Significant Infrastructure or Permitted Development, thereby taking the issue out of public scrutiny was similarly unsuccessful.

    Now we have seen the refusal of the Teachers Union to accept Ineos sponsorship of the Daily Mile initiative and now also the Fire Brigades Union declaring that they will oppose fracking from now on.

    And then there is the now world wide opposition growing against the governments and corporations failure to anything about the growing evidence of climate change deterioration and the school strike protests on behalf of the climate and the Extinction Rebellion two week protest in London.

    This week we have a declaration in Parliament declaring a Climate Change Emergency and yet still nothing is actually being done to radically carry out any actual changes to our energy supply and resource infrastructure.

    The gutter press media are of course exploiting the many headed hydra media feeding frenzy for its maximum potential and have desperately attempted to diffuse and sidestep any actual progress into descending into personality cults and setting up one against the other.

    It has to be said that the only way to get any actual movement on real actual actions to alleviate the climate change emergency is for everyone to work as one on the effort.

    But perhaps that does not fit with the dreadful jealously guarded status quo inertia that must be maintained at all costs to keep everything exactly the way it is and keep those monopolistic fossil fuel profits rolling in and prevent any investment or reseach or actually encouraging the renewal resources alternatives.

    We need to be looking at solutions to problems, not simply stating they exist, or fiddling around the edges to preserve the present hegemonic monopolistic power structure, nor should we be allowed to bicker and allow ourselves to be divided and conquered by such jealously guarded inertia power bases.

    There is opportunity in this major social change we are going through, but of course also great danger, there are those who will oppose any movement away from their presently overflowing rice bowls and power bases, and dividing and conquering by the wholly owned media is their standard division methodology. We all ready see how some have leapt upon that deliberate division and will do so outrageously rather than address any real issue, let alone do something about it.

    One of the solutions is the Doughnut economics by Kate Raworth, we see that markets are inefficient and growth is not the holy grail. It’s time for a new economic model: the doughnut economics. Kate Raworth’s plea for the ‘doughnut economics’ casts doubt on the credo of economic growth for sustainability: there are hard limits to what you can do to the planet. Kate Raworth’s doughnut economics could change our future. Look at “Why our economic model must change – VPRO documentary” on the link i provided on May 18, 2019 at 12:23 pm, or on the internet.

    Another solution is to implement as a matter of urgency the proposal by Polly Higgins, who, now sadly departed, was dedicating her life towards making Ecocide an internationally criminal act akin to murder, that will set some very powerful legal cats amongst some very closely guarded pigeons and will give defence of the planets ecology and environment real legal power, there is nothing in law that protects nature, nothing at all, and that must change now, or nothing will ever get done. look at the link i provided for “Why earth destruction is a crime – VPRO documentary” or look it up on the internet.

    Another way will be to strip the “artificial person” status of corporations, at present the legal rights of an immortal, non corporate artificial person supersedes that of a natural living person, that being a mortal like you and i. That will be another way of reducing the power of artificial person immortal corporations that have no responsibility whatsoever other than to make profit, unlike a natural living person, who is mortal and has laws to obey and responsibilities to ensure the survival of the family, the species and the life of the planet and that of future generations, corporations have no such obligations and that is demonstrated every day. look at the “Natural Person vs Artificial Person” link here:

    Well, have a good Sunday with family and friends and spare a thought for the children who not only have their futures stolen from them, but are now being targeted by unscrupulous manipulators to divide and conquer them into polarised factions. There was a time when children were protected from media exploitation and manipulation, but apparently they are now being targeted and exploited without any legal or moral or ethical consideration. Such is the depths to which we have descended.

  9. In tribute to the brave Fire Brigade personnel
    who risk their lives every day on our behalf
    and get little if any thanks for it.

    Appropriately this is:

    Earth, Wind And Fire, with:

    “Earth, Wind And Fire”

    Are you satisfied
    In your life and time
    Does it clear you mind
    With all the hurt you find

    Built on Mother Earth
    They were meant to stay
    Nations bloom today
    On gifts of yesterday

    Born of the Earth, are nature’s children
    Fed by the Wind, the breath of life
    Judged by the fiery hands of God

    World goes by the hand
    Of the master plan
    Can’t you understand
    You’re but a grain of sand

    Do you need a guide
    To make you feel satisfied
    Head to the sky
    Will tell you why

    Born of the Earth, are nature’s children
    Fed by the Wind, the breath of life
    Judged by the fiery hands of God

    To all firemen and women everywhere, have a great Sunday and thank you.

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