Racism, the London Fire Brigade and me | Times2

It was 8.30pm, half an hour into a night shift at Chelsea fire station, in February 2021, when the firefighter Gareth Dawes learnt of the death of Jaden Francois-Esprit, a trainee at a station not ten miles from his own, in Wembley, north London.

Dawes was standing among the stainless steel industrial fittings of the station kitchen when a colleague walked in and told him that the 21-year-old had taken his own life; an inquest, reported in that day’s media, heard he believed he was bullied at work because of his Caribbean ethnicity, though the coroner said he had not been bullied.

“I remember it so clearly,” says Dawes, 40, a black man and dad of two, speaking from his south London home after blowing


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