‘Cocky’ firefighter, 30, wins nearly £7,000 payout after being sacked for sleeping through an emergency call, trying to take a selfie at an incident and using up all the fire station’s milk
- Bosses had to repeatedly pull Dan Phelps, 30, up for series of behavioural issues
- Complaints made by Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service colleagues
- The father-of-two, from Trowbridge, Wilts., said he was often reduced to tears
- Employment tribunal Judge Fowell ruled his dismissal was procedurally unfair
A self-confessed ‘Jack the Lad’ firefighter has won almost a £7,000 payout after he successfully sued the fire service for being unfairly sacked, despite sleeping through an emergency call.
‘Cocky’ full-time firefighter Dan Phelps, from Trowbridge, Wilts, was booted out of his job after bosses had to repeatedly pull him up for a series of behavioural issues.
He also had numerous complaints made against him by his colleagues from Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Bosses had to repeatedly pull ‘cocky’ full-time firefighter Dan Phelps (pictured) for a series of behavioural issues
Mr Phelps was sacked in May 2019 – less than a year into his job at Swindon Fire Station, Wilts.
Now, the father of two has won £6,765 after he successfully sued the fire service after employment Judge Fowell ruled his dismissal was procedurally unfair.
His offending – described by the judge as an accumulation of incidents over a long period – was laid out at the tribunal in Southampton, Hants.
The employment tribunal heard the 30-year-old was given a direct order when he flirted with a female member of public while out on a call, gave his boss the ‘V-sign’ – and used all of the station’s milk.
Mr Phelps had to be told he couldn’t take selfies at an incident, joked pretend casualties were ‘obese’, and admitted telling ‘porkies’ about an injury he had.
His colleagues said, although he was ‘very likeable’, he had a ‘poor attitude’ and they were ‘amazed he passed selection’.
A report said: ‘He went to sleep (as permitted) but with ear plugs in and so missed a call for an incident. When he was woken up he seemed to think it was a joke.’
It also said: ‘Mr Phelps had an informal meeting with the Crew Managers… who had noted some poor behaviour over recent weeks.
‘These included giving a ‘V-sign’ to [Watch Manager] Mr Izon at an incident – presumably in jest – and an incident in which he had been found flirting with a woman who ran some flats they were called to.
Full-time firefighter Dan Phelps, (pictured) from Trowbridge, Wilts., has won £6,765 payout after he successfully sued the fire service for being unfairly sacked
‘He had to be told three times by Mr Altree to come away, ending with a direct order.’
The report added he was ‘unapologetic’ when colleagues complained he used all the milk, used the ‘F word at a client’s house’, was ‘resistant’ to advice, needed ‘regular reminders about things’ and ducked out of cleaning the fire engine.
The tribunal heard he defied his manager’s instructions, made offensive posts on social media, and after being told he couldn’t take a photograph at an incident he asked a member of public to email him theirs.
Mr Phelps, now a tree surgeon, said: ‘What they were doing was picking me up on tiny little things that everyone else does in the service and writing them down then holding it against me.
The 30-year old said he was reduced to tears on quite a few occasions adding it was ‘a year of torture’
‘I got dragged into the office for everything – I even got dragged in for farting.
‘I’m a little bit of a Jack the Lad and I’ve got a bit about me and they were older and had been there for 25 years and they just didn’t like me there and the way I was, but I was still very respectful.
‘I’m a big tough guy but they reduced me to tears on quite a few occasions. It was a year of torture, I felt like I was treading on eggshells all the time.’
Mr Phelps also defended his sleeping through the emergency call.
He said: ‘I was new and I don’t sleep well so I thought a bit of rain music wouldn’t hurt as I’d still hear the loud bells.
Mr Phelps (pictured) said he is happy his won his case but ‘thinks about the fire service every day’ and is gutted to have missed out on a career there
‘The thing is, everyone has slept through the bells at one point – and I didn’t miss the shout, I still made it out on time.’
Judge Fowell said Mr Phelps,was unfairly dismissed due to issues over his probationary period and as he was not given an appeal hearing.
The judge, however, said: ‘It seems more likely than not that a full and fair process would ultimately have led to the same conclusion, given the accumulation of evidence.’
Mr Phelps said he is happy his won his case but ‘thinks about the fire service every day’ and is gutted to have missed out on a career there.
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