Fire boss says he was abused over Pride image

Simon Tuhill at the scene of a fire.
Simon Tuhill said he received thousands of abusive messages online after posting a picture of epaulettes which include rainbow-coloured lines [James Grant/BBC]

A senior fire service official says he was sent "reprehensible and homophobic" messages after he posted a picture of Pride-themed epaulettes.

Simon Tuhill, Northamptonshire's deputy chief fire officer posted the image on X, formally known as Twitter, last week.

He said he was "appalled and shocked" at the overwhelmingly negative messages he received.

He said the fire service remains committed to supporting diversity.

Mr Tuhill said the fire service had ordered some Pride markings for epaulettes for some staff who would be attending events throughout the county.

He said: "I was really proud to wear them on my shoulders, hence why I posted a picture on social media, because I thought they looked really special."

A shirt with Pride colours at the top of epaulettes.
Mr Tuhill said he was appalled at the homophobic and abusive language that was used in response to his photo [Simon Tuhill/Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue]

He said he was "appalled and shocked" by some of the responses he received adding: "Some of the reprehensible, homophobic language that's been used has made me feel really sad.

"The Pride community - they're our friends, neighbours and some are my colleagues.

"Some of those comments suggested because I wore those epaulettes we wouldn't rescue straight people from a fire, and of course there's no such thing. We will help everyone equally," he added.

He said some people had also stood up to the abuse being posted online and that he had received some supportive messages privately from colleagues and others saying it was "powerful" to see a senior manager showing support.

Mr Tuhill said: "I've been clear that the fire service culture, working as a team and embracing our diversity as an organisation, is really important.

"Because we're much better at our job when we properly reflect it, because we understand what the community needs from us."

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