FIRE magazine wins major international award

FIRE magazine has won the Editor’s Column Silver Award at the coveted Tabbies – the world’s premier business publications awardsFIRE magazine received the prestigious accolade from the US based Trade Association Business Publications International

  • Editor Andrew Lynch says the award reflects FIRE’s global outreach and appeal
  • The coveted Tabbie prize is the magazine’s second in just over a year, following the Press Gazette’s Coronavirus Journalism Excellence Best Comment

FIRE publisher Fire Knowledge is delighted to announce that the magazine has received another prestigious award, the Tabbies’ Editor’s Column Silver Award, for Editor Andrew Lynch’s white paper titled ‘A new architecture for society’.

Inspired by a conversation between Andrew and Security Correspondent Dr Dave Sloggett, the article was written at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and has led to a series of reports culminating in the Charter for Resilience concept.

“We have had great success over the last year with increasing UK fire and rescue subscriptions through our ‘Fire for All’ offer and now reach a global audience of over 35,000,” Editor Andrew Lynch said. “What may get overlooked is that we have always had a healthy global distribution and readership and I think this prestigious award reflects our international outreach and appeal.”

Reacting to news of the award, Fire Knowledge Director Andy Fry explained that “Board members are delighted to see Andrew’s journalistic excellence formally recognised again. Under his leadership, the team at FIRE magazine is constantly looking for opportunities to introduce new ideas and cutting-edge thinking into the fire and rescue sector across the world. This award is testament to their efforts in that regard and helps explain why the publication attracts such a large international readership.”

Commenting on the entry, the judges said: “The author looks at the macro and micro to deliver a series of informed observations and insights. Although the publication’s stated purpose comprises only one of the column’s five points, it is woven through and referenced in the others. The author dives into discussing Covid-19 with meaningful discourse and thought without turning to conjecture.”

Paul J. Heney, TABPI President, said that this year’s entries highlighted how important business journalism is to the multitude of industries it serves. “Judges raved about how publishers pushed forward, even in the midst of a global pandemic. The work submitted for the Tabbies each year continues to show the astonishing print and online journalism that continues to happen in this space,” Heney said. “Around the world, editors and designers are doing quality work, meaningful to the industries they serve – and we’re proud to help spotlight it.”






Chief Fire Officer Paul M Fuller CBE QFSM MStJ DL 1960-2021

Chief Fire Officer Paul Fuller, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, passed away in June weeks before he was due to retire. FIRE reflects on the career of a larger-than-life fire sector legend

Paul Maurice Fuller joined the Fire Service in 1978 and became Chief Fire Officer at Bedfordshire and Luton Fire and Rescue Service in 2002. He served on a number of national bodies and was President of the Chief Fire Officers Association, Chair of CFOA Services Limited, Chair of the Fire Sector Federation, a committee member of the Fire Service Parliamentary Scheme and was a UK representative to the annual United States Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Conference. He was the serving Chair of Trustees for the national charity, the Children’s Burns Trust, Chair of the Board of Trustees of The Fire Fighters Charity, and Chair of Fire Sport UK.

Paul spent a lot of his free time undertaking fundraising activities for the Children’s Burns Trust and The Fire Fighters Charity, which included open water swimming and climbing Kilimanjaro in 2019.

Up for a challenge and always in the best humour: Paul undertook numerous fundraising activities, such as climbing Kilimanjaro in 2019 for the Children’s Burns Trust and The Fire Fighters Charity – he was chair of both charities when he passed away

Paul was made a Freeman of the City of London in 2012, awarded the Queens Fire Service Medal for exemplary service in 2008 and made Commander of the British Empire by her Majesty in the 2016 New Year’s Honours. He was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Bedfordshire in 2017 and made Member of St John in 2018.

Stellar Fire Service Career

Paul joined West Midlands Fire Service in 1978, and quickly moved through the ranks to become an Advanced Training Instructor before joining West Sussex Fire Brigade as Fire Station Commander in 1987. The move was in part precipitated by his father, Brian Fuller, becoming chief of West Midlands and advising his son to move on if he wished to secure promotion. Paul would follow a varied career path before emerging from his father’s shadow and becoming known as a redoubtable chief officer in his own right. From 1990-1994 Paul served with Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service before being appointed Assistant Chief Fire Officer of Wiltshire Fire Brigade until 2002.

He was the youngest Chief Fire Officer in the country at the time of his appointment to Bedfordshire and Luton Fire and Rescue Service in 2002, taking over at a time of highly volatile industrial relations with a number of pending trade disputes. In addition, the service faced considerable financial challenges. Working with the fire authority and representative bodies, Paul stabilised industrial relations, developed an effective strategic community safety plan and delivered long-term financial stability and efficiency.

It was this sure-handed leadership that led to him being seconded to Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service for nine months in 2009 as Chief Fire Officer following the Atherstone-on-Stour tragedy. Paul ensured that an improvement plan was put in place with public consultations underway, new live fire behaviour and compartment fire training in place, and new hardware and software for incident risk information being installed on frontline appliances.

From here Paul took on a number of national roles including becoming President of the Chief Fire Officers Association during the worst flooding in recent memory across the home counties and South West, which led to considerable involvement in often difficult discussions with ministers, civil servants, national employers and representative bodies. This did not deter Paul from starting the campaign to raise awareness of the dangers presented by the flammability of children’s dressing up clothes, which received extensive national media coverage. Paul also joined an ad hoc British Standards Committee trying to improve the performance of fabrics. Ongoing work also included working with stakeholders to postpone proposed changes to the furniture fire safety regulations until the efficacy of the changes are properly proven. As Vice President of the Federation of British Fire Organisations, Paul was pivotal in co-founding the Fire Sector Federation, latterly becoming Deputy Chair and Chair.

Closer to home, Paul utilised his national and international contacts and expertise to improve his own service. Gaining insight into the different shift systems through his professional network in the US Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association, the service introduced a 24-hour shift system on wholetime stations leading to an increase in training and availability of appliances and supplemented other measures including realignment of posts at middle and senior manager level.

Chief Fire Officer Andy Hopkinson said: “We are still coming to terms with the loss of our beloved chief, an incredibly well-respected man. There are undoubtedly people walking the streets of Bedfordshire today thanks to Paul’s dedication and devotion to the fire and rescue service.

“This will be an incredibly difficult time for Paul’s family, friends and colleagues, past and present, and our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with them all.”

Paul leaves behind wife Helen and daughter Jess, son Ben and daughter Amy from his first marriage, three grandchildren, brothers Simon and Adam and parents Linda and Brian.

Honours and Awards:

1998 Fire Service long Service and Good Conduct Medal

2002 Queens Golden Jubilee Medal

2008 Queens Fire Service Medal

2012 Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal

2013 Freedom of the City of London

2016 Commander of the British Empire

2017 Deputy Lieutenant of Bedfordshire

2018 Member Order of St John





A Personal Reflection

Editor Andrew Lynch reflects on the loss of a close friend and colleague

Prior to his retirement, Paul had spoken with a number of close contacts about his desire to remain in the sector, fuelled by a life-long desire to keep giving back and continuing to live a life of public service. He was therefore exploring a number of roles to keep him involved with fire. Above all, Paul wanted to continue to be part of the sector which he had given so much to for most of his adult life. Whilst undoubtedly tragic that he should die weeks before retirement from the Fire and Rescue Service, it is also fitting that he should die in service, for that was what the man was all about.

For those that knew him well, Paul was a force of nature, a larger-than-life character who would fill a room with a remarkable energy, a true zest for life and unshakeable good humour. Ever playful, with a constant glint in his eye, Paul was also kind and considerate, his default position being always to put others first. This could mask an incisive intelligence and a resolute style of leadership that reassured colleagues and collaborators.

As a close friend and colleague for many years I had the opportunity to learn from his exuberant approach to life and leadership and benefitted greatly from his advice and mentoring across many different forums, including the Fire Sector Federation, The Fire Fighters Charity and our EFE awards at which he was a regular host and judge. I will always be indebted for his support as a trustee during my tenure as Chair of The Fire Fighters Charity, proving a loyal and steadfast confidante during some difficult times for the charity. Personally and professionally, Paul has been an absolute rock; unfailingly loyal, supportive and kind; nothing was ever too much, no request too large and no end he wouldn’t go to in service of friendship.

That said, it is impossible to capture the man in these few short sentences. However, we are fortunate that he has left an uplifting legacy; a style of leadership that we would do well to reflect upon and above all a kind, generous and loving approach to life that is truly inspirational.

So what a presence, what a leader, what a life, what a man. I’m at a loss, my friend, for no-one else ever filled a room with such a life-affirming presence, generosity of spirit and sheer good-natured joy. Your loss is immeasurable but there is some solace in benefitting from having known your kindness, unwavering support and inspirational encouragement. I will miss your guiding wisdom, constant wise cracks, wicked sense of humour and our fun-filled time together.

With deepest gratitude, respect and love.





Parliament unites for UK’s first ‘999 Cenotaph’

A charity that is raising at least £3.2 million to build the UK’s first Emergency Services Cenotaph honouring the NHS and emergency services, has announced a cross-party parliamentary committee, which will work to make the 999 Cenotaph a reality

The committee consists of Sir Mike Penning MP, Yvette Cooper MP, Allan Dorans MP, Munira Wilson MP, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP, Lord Mark Lancaster, Lord Vernon Coaker and Baroness Cathy Bakewell.

Former firefighter, solider and Police Minister, Sir Mike Penning MP, and the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee and former Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper MP, will co-chair the committee.

The committee is tasked with trying to find a suitable location in Westminster to locate the UK’s first national monument to the NHS and emergency services, and to assist with securing major donations.

Almost two million people work and volunteer across the NHS and emergency services today, including 250,000 first responders.

The monument is supported by HRH The Duke of Cambridge; the Prime Minister; the First Ministers of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales; the National Police and Fire Chiefs’ Councils; the Association of Ambulance CEOs; and all search and rescue organisations.

This monument is being sculpted by Philip Jackson, whose previous work includes Bomber Command in Green Park, Gandhi in Parliament Square and The Queen in Windsor Great Park.

The 999 Cenotaph, which will be 21ft tall, includes six 8ft figures stood back-to-back wearing the uniform they would wear when responding to a 999 call. The figures will be stood on White Portland stone. The figures are of a male police officer, firefighter, maritime volunteer and a female paramedic, nurse and search and rescue volunteer. A dog is also to be included, to represent service animals.

The first figure, that of an NHS nurse, was unveiled in May.

If funding is secured soon, then the monument could be unveiled in December 2022, the year of Her Majesty’s Platinum  Jubilee.

Speaking of his appointment as co-chair of the 999 Cenotaph Parliamentary Committee, The Rt Hon Sir Mike Penning MP, said: “As a former firefighter and Police Minister I am honoured to have been appointed co-chair of the 999 Cenotaph Parliamentary Committee. The 999 Cenotaph is a remarkable campaign for a single memorial in our capital city to honour all those who have lost their lives whilst serving their communities in the emergency services. I am committed to finding a suitable site in the centre of Westminster and, quite frankly, it is long overdue.”

Speaking of her appointment as co-chair of the 999 Cenotaph Parliamentary Committee, The Rt Hon Yvette Cooper MP, said: “Across the country people owe their lives and their safety to our brave emergency service workers. They are there for every one of us when we need them most and we owe them our thanks – never more so than after this difficult year. That’s why I’m so glad to be co-chairing the 999 Cenotaph’s Parliamentary Committee. It is time we had this fitting memorial to honour all those who have sadly lost their lives while supporting communities across the country.”

Tom Scholes-Fogg, Founder and Chief Executive of the 999 Cenotaph, said: “I am delighted that this cross-party Parliamentary Committee has been established to help secure funding and find a suitable site for the UK’s first ‘999 Cenotaph’ – a lasting symbol of gratitude to the millions of people who have served in our NHS and emergency services. The 999 Cenotaph will be a monument to our heroes – a monument that the British people can look at and be proud of. We need to raise at least £3.2 million to make this a reality. I urge the public to donate whatever they can. Our NHS and 999 services have been there for you, it is now time for you to be there for them.”

For more information visit:





What’s fire engineering got to do with me?

In the first of this regular column, the Institution of Fire Engineers Chief Executive Steve Hamm explains why understanding what fire engineering is, is more important than ever

When the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) was established in 1918, it was a broad organisation that reflected the interests of all those professionals involved in fire prevention, protection, safety and response. That hasn’t changed. However, research undertaken by the IFE has found that defining what fire engineering is varies considerably around the world. That is why understanding what fire engineering is, is more important than ever.

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, to engineer is to plan or do something in a skilful way. For me, there are a number of core characteristics that make up an engineer. It is someone who combines knowledge and understanding, experience and knowhow in practice and ethical and professional conduct in a way that solves problems and builds trust. They are experts at what they do.

When it comes to fire, it is easy to see how it has evolved into a complex and accomplished industry, but fundamentally, every single role within the fire engineering profession involves a deep understanding of how fires start, how they behave in different scenarios and how they can be dealt with. Beyond that within fire engineering there is a whole spectrum of different specialisms.

The basic principles apply whether you are designing buildings, fire protection systems, commissioning and specifying fire safety systems, signing off on procedures, carrying out inspections and audits, maintaining equipment, assessing risk, planning emergency responses, making decisions about tactical ventilation of buildings, investigating the causes of fires, creating new standards and codes of practice, training and drilling workforces or communities, or at the frontline tackling fires.

They also apply whether you are dealing with fires in the built or natural environment, which pose unique challenges. In fact, there are so many challenges where specialist knowledge is being developed on almost a daily basis.

In all cases, it is vital that all roles overlap with those of others, none should operate in isolation. The more joined up approaches are, the more efficient and effective our ability to prevent and contain fires and reduce harm is.

The truth is, there is still a lot we don’t know about fire. We cannot be complacent particularly when it comes to emerging technologies. For example, the unique challenges presented to first responders when tackling lithium-ion battery fires in vehicles or properties, or even during manufacture and transport, are only just being investigated and understood as more incidents occur. The same applies to fires in renewable energy power stations, or in buildings using novel sustainable materials that improve environmental performance. In fact, what constitutes ‘state-of-the-art’ in a range of scenarios is changing all the time.

For example, the current advice to anyone planning to install onsite battery storage is to consult their local fire station when drawing up an emergency response plan. That’s fire engineering. Testing the batteries in a lab is fire engineering, designing new fire suppression systems to meet the explosive nature of these types of fires, that’s engineering too.

The reality is our world is changing at a faster pace than ever before, driven by climate change and sustainability. New transport and energy systems are just two of the many evolving landscapes where the fire industry needs to adapt.

To do this effectively, we must work in partnership, collaborate across specialisms and build our knowledge and skills together. Each person working in the fire industry today brings their own experience and valuable perspective to solving the problems of the future. That’s engineering.

As a global organisation, it is truly exciting that we have international peers we can learn from to discover new technology and techniques to address future challenges, whether that is innovations in tackling wildfires or how AR/VR and drone technologies are being used to build skills, knowledge and understanding.

As an organisation, our future focus is going to be on the two key themes of competency to build trust and confidence in new ways of dealing with fire, and sustainability that considers how we can make each of our roles increasingly relevant to future plans for buildings, our towns and cities, our transport networks and rural environments.

Now, more than ever, fire professionals need to be willing to learn and adapt to new scenarios, come up with fresh thinking for both new and old challenges and create sustainable opportunities to learn and develop in our careers.

In a world that’s changing fast, knowledge, expertise and accountability will give all those working in the industry the tools to make the right decisions and continue to build long-term trust and confidence in the communities they serve.

New special interest groups, training opportunities, qualifications and a new online knowledge centre are just some of the ways the IFE is supporting members as they step up to these new challenges.

There is always more that we can do to help branches and members, wherever they are, and we have put additional resources in place to reach out and respond to the changing needs of our members and our volunteers.

To find out more visit





Achieving more together: facing a ‘tidal wave’ of activities

National Fire Chiefs Council Chair Mark Hardingham reports on the council’s support for fire and rescue services in the journey towards reform and continuous improvement

As we approach the end of the first tranche of round two of the HMICFRS inspections, and with the sixth Fire Standard having just been published, the role of NFCC to support fire and rescue services in their journey towards reform and continuous improvement has never been more relevant.

A large amount of NFCC work focuses on development and delivery of programmes and projects nationally, designed for local implementation. What started out as a programme of work to produce National Operational Guidance for the fire and rescue sector has grown into a multi-faceted body of work, which is key to supporting FRSs to continue to deliver excellent services to their communities.

The NFCC Plan outlines the ambitions and objectives that NFCC has committed to delivering in the coming three years.

The NFCC’s strategic commitments provide the cornerstones of NFCC activity; our Strategy – Achieving More Together – recognises the need for us to carefully plan how we review and apply learning to our guidance and work.

The Community Risk Programme is the foundation of how the NFCC is achieving its first strategic commitment to reduce community risk and vulnerability. Fundamentally, this programme seeks to deliver a national definition of risk and standardised tools and guidance to support the community risk management process through a number of projects; its most recent achievement is the publication of the Community Risk Management Planning Fire Standard.

One of our newest programmes to launch is Prevention, aligned to our commitment to reduce community risk. Working alongside the NFCC Prevention Committee, this programme will focus initially on the Person-Centred Care project and the publication of a Prevention Fire Standard.

As part of their Tranche 2 inspection reports, HMICFRS were clear that there should be more consistency, including in how fire and rescue services define risk and how to prioritise fire safety activity in the built environment. In addressing this, the Protection Policy and Reform Unit is currently reviewing the approach to Risk Based Inspection Programmes.

National Operational Guidance has now become business as usual for many FRSs as well as utilising National Operational Learning to great effect. Many FRSs have engaged with this important element of using the experiences of colleagues to inform, update and, in some cases, rewrite the guidance on which our FRSs rely. A new project has recently launched to develop and deliver guidance specifically for fire control rooms.

NFCC’s People Programme fulfils our second commitment to support the continuous improvement of workforce performance across the sector. Its current phase focuses on cultural reform and strengthening leadership and the launch of the Core Code of Ethics marked a significant milestone in this important area of work. Up-coming projects – including Direct Entry, Supervisory Leadership and Maturity Models – will help to support the ongoing work within FRSs to ensure that we continue to attract, recruit, develop and invest in the highest calibre of staff to our profession.

Aligned to the third NFCC Strategic Commitment to lead digital and data solutions to drive transformation, after a comprehensive scoping period, the Programme is about to embark on the design phase for a National Data Hub, which will transform the way in which we collect, analyse and present data back in a meaningful way.

Our procurement and commercial work has taken great strides forward in the past 12 months and this is set to continue. A major success was the national procurement of essential resources at a national level during the pandemic to support local delivery. As this work continues, we have committed to collect spend data from each FRS for further analysis, to determine priorities areas for commercial transformation and a single portal and contract register, along with further collaboration with blue light agencies to assist in and accelerate commercial reform. Many of these areas were initially driven by Fire Reform but have gone much, much further.

Both myself as Chair and the NFCC Steering Group recognise what sometimes feels like a ‘tidal wave’ of activities and initiatives that fire and rescue services need to respond to in order to drive change; we have therefore committed to establishing a new Implementation Team to provide a link between NFCC and FRSs, working with them and developing a tailored approach to implementation at a local level.

All of this means that the NFCC needs to reflect on its structure and purpose for the future. This is our fourth commitment in our strategy. We have commissioned two independent reviews of how we operate, which will be informing an internal programme of change and reform to ensure we, as an organisation, are prepared to meet the challenges ahead. We expect NFCC to have a clear voice and role in how that future is shaped.





End to End Cycle Challenge

Organisers report on the End to End Cycle Challenge, from Land’s End to John O’Groats, recently undertaken by a team of retired firefighters from Oxfordshire FRS

As you read this the team of retired firefighters from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service will have embarked on their challenge to ride 1,100 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats. Months of preparation and training are now behind them, leaving the team with just two remaining aims – to complete the ride and to raise £10,000 for The Fire Fighters Charity and Bowel Cancer UK.

Everyone connected with the fire community knows of the invaluable work that The Fire Fighters Charity does, and supporting the charity was the prime motivation for this challenge, but each team member had links with someone who has been diagnosed with bowel cancer. They agreed that Bowel Cancer UK should also be a beneficiary of their efforts.

Retired firefighter Guy Dunkley, who is driving the support vehicle for the team, says: “In November 2010, I was diagnosed with Stage Two bowel cancer. Although the surgery went well and I didn’t need any further treatment, I wasn’t prepared for how weak I would feel. I’m more of a carer by nature, so it was really hard to ask for help.

“I spent two weeks at The Fire Fighters Charity’s centre at Jubilee House in Penrith, both to improve my physical fitness and to get my head around the emotional stuff regarding my bodily functions. The emotional and physical support I got there was vital to my recovery. I seriously don’t know how I’d have got back to work without it.”

Bowel Cancer UK is the UK’s leading bowel cancer charity. They are determined to save lives and improve the quality of life of everyone affected by bowel cancer. Their vision is a future where nobody dies of the disease.

To help achieve this they are supporting a number of projects, partnering with leading clinicians, institutions and academics across the UK, to improve the detection and treatment of bowel cancer.

They are also running a number of campaigns, all of which are achieving real change, such as succeeding in getting the screening age down from 60 to 50. They have also managed to put bowel cancer on the political agenda and now have more than 70 bowel cancer champions in parliament helping them push for life-saving changes in the way bowel cancer is diagnosed and treated.

Vicky Martin, Community Fundraising Manager for Bowel Cancer UK, says: “We are very proud to have the BRIKCOIN End to End 2020 Challenge firefighters cycling Land’s End to John O’Groats in aid of our charity. It’s because of people like Dave Etheridge, Shaun Waters, Bob Paterson, Clive Durbin, Gary Mattingley and Gary Stables (the End to End cyclists) that we can continue to save lives and improve the quality of life of everyone affected by bowel cancer.” To find out more about bowel cancer and the work the charity does, visit:

To help support the work that The Fire Fighters Charity and Bowel Cancer UK do, visit:





Diversion from nuisance fires

Cleveland Fire Brigade is linking up with partners to provide pop-up activities to keep young people off the streets in a clampdown on nuisance fires

The activities – Shout out & Kick about – including a climbing wall and football tournaments are being set-up in hotspot areas in support of the UK’s first ever Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) Awareness Week at the end of July.

Latest figures show there were more than 2,200 deliberate fires across the brigade area in the first six months of this year (January to June 2021), costing the local economy nearly £13 million.

Steve Johnson, Area Manager, Prevention, Protection and Engagement, said: “Fire crews and our schools education team will be on-hand at these activities to get to know the young people, engage with our local communities and provide support and advice about the dangers of fire. Such incidents are a huge financial and environmental cost to the community and can divert resources away from real emergencies where lives may be at risk.

“We know the majority of young people are responsible and these events are just a chance to show how everyone can have fun, make a positive contribution to the places where they live and steer clear of anti-social behaviour. They are another step in our continuing work to build engagement with young people.”

The brigade has also been running a ‘Love Where You Live’ campaign throughout July, in partnership with Zetland FM, encouraging people to keep their local environment clean and tidy and remove rubbish, which could potentially be fuel for deliberate fires.

In recent months the brigade has also provided equipment for a number of local litter picking groups and has attended large events like the Big River Tees Tidy-up and the Eston Hills Tidy-up, helping communities take pride in their areas.

ASB Awareness Week is organised by Resolve and is backed by the Home Office, National Police Chiefs’ Council and the National Fire Chiefs Council.





Fire safety remote video inspections – a Coronavirus success

Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service report on being the first service in the UK to use remote video inspections

Reacting to the Coronavirus pandemic has meant a change in working practices for most industries, and the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s Business Fire Safety department was not immune to this impact. As part of their regulatory activities, under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, inspectors from the service undertake in the region of 1,000 planned audits per year of premises identified as part of their risk-based audit programme. The type of premises audited is varied but includes hotels, hospitals, residential care premises, education establishments, the communal parts of high-rise residential buildings and other non-domestic premises.

A revision of audit risk assessments, following the first lockdown, saw all auditing activities suspended, with face-to-face visits from the fire safety team being undertaken only for reactive and enforcement work.

As the various stages of lockdown, unlock and further lockdown unfolded, it became apparent that there could be quite some delay before auditing activities could return to normal. This led the Head of Business Fire Safety, Group Manager Sion Slaymaker, to consider alternative approaches. “I was concerned that there was no end in sight to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic and that the level of service delivery received by premises’ responsible persons was inevitably being impacted. We were unable to identify the fire safety deficiencies, which would normally be picked up during audits, and the duty holders at the premises would not have the oversight and reassurance provided as a result of our auditing activities. In addition, there was some concern that fire safety arrangements may be compromised as a result of new measures being implemented to mitigate against coronavirus transmission.”

Following a review of potential options, the Business Fire Safety team sought to develop an audit process that could be undertaken entirely remotely, through the use of videotelephony. It is believed that Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service has been the first service in the UK to develop remote video inspections (RVI). RVI enables business fire safety inspecting officers and the onsite responsible person of a premises to conduct a visual inspection of the fire safety standards within the premises, without the physical attendance of the inspecting officer. RVI is intended to take the form of a structured and methodical one-to-one inspection using online video meeting software. By using RVI, MAWWFRS can capture a snapshot of the current fire safety provisions and standards within premises without the associated risks of on-site inspections and possible coronavirus transmission.

The information gained during the RVI will form the basis of any further action required and ensures the ongoing maintenance of fire safety measures to protect the workforce and members of the public.

Sion Slaymaker added: “The utilisation of remote video inspections has allowed us to return to the targeted auditing of premises that forms part of our risk-based audit programme. The feedback from the responsible persons and duty holders receiving the audit has been exceptionally positive, although there have been on a limited number of occasions the usual challenges with connectivity issues.

RVI is now an auditing tool that forms part of our routine auditing structure, alongside the traditional face-to-face visits. It continues to reduce the risk of any coronavirus transmission but also has the benefits of increased efficiency and reduced costs as a result of lessening transport demands.”





Northumberland FRS appoint new Assistant Chief Fire Officer

Jim McNeil has been appointed Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service’s new Assistant Chief Fire Officer, following an extensive selection process

Jim who was born in Irvine Scotland, joins NFRS from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service where he served for more than 24 years and where he finished his SFRS career as local senior officer for East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire and Inverclyde. In this role he was responsible for the delivery of the fire and rescue service across three local authority areas covering a population of 350,000, from seven wholetime fire stations and four on-call/Retained Duty System stations with a total workforce of more than 320 people.

Commenting on his appointment, Jim said: “I’m really looking forward to working with my new service, working closely with the senior leadership team and our staff to deliver our vision of making Northumberland safer.

“It’s also exciting being part of Northumberland County Council – working in collaboration to keep our communities and residents safe and well.”

Paul Hedley, NFRS Chief Fire Officer, commented: “I’m delighted to welcome such a talented and highly respected officer and Jim is an excellent appointment for us. He brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience, and I’m sure he’ll bring real innovation and a fresh perspective to the services we deliver for our communities and partnerships.

“I’m really excited about how he will work with all of our staff and colleagues across the county council to shape and shape and influence the future of NFRS.”





Firefighter’s legacy is immortalised by the creation of a magnificent sculpture

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service are offering the opportunity for businesses or individuals to bid for a one-off specially commissioned sculpture to raise money for The Fire Fighters Charity

The 1.8 metre sculpture of a Phoenix was commissioned by Hereford firefighter Spencer Jones as a memorial to former HWFRS Group Commander Stu Crebbin, following his untimely death earlier this year after losing his fight against cancer.

The Phoenix represents the incredible battle he fought, and his positivity to continue living his life as normally as he could whilst continuing to help others. Even in the middle of his treatment last year he completed the incredibly challenging Brecon Beacons 10 Peaks Traverse 24-hour Challenge to raise money for the charity that provided him with so much support during his treatment and final weeks.

The impressive sculpture, made from galvanised steel, was designed and created by ex-HWFRS firefighter and Pershore-based blacksmith Steven Ellis Cooper ( The auction to own the sculpture is now open to sealed bids starting from £5,000, with all proceeds going directly to the charity.

Close friend and colleague of Stu, firefighter Spencer Jones, said: “This is a chance to own a one-off intricately made piece of artwork that would be a stunning centrepiece in any outdoor or indoor area, public or private.

“Like with many charities across the UK Covid-19 has taken its toll on The Fire Fighters Charity’s fundraising capabilities. It was Stu’s wish, with the full support of his family, that donations and fundraising activity following his passing should support the charity, and that we continue his extraordinary legacy so other firefighters and their families can benefit.

“On behalf the fire service I’d like to thank Steven Ellis Cooper for giving up his own time to create this magnificent sculpture, which represents resilience, hope and strength, everything Stu stood for.”

The launch of the auction comes just a few weeks before a team of more than 40 firefighters, and other supporters, begin this year’s Stu’s Phoenix Brecon Beacons 10 Peaks Challenge, which will now become an annual event to remember Stu and raise money for the charity that meant so much to him.

Following months of intensive training the team will set off early on Saturday August 7 with just 24 hours to complete the 42-mile challenge across the Brecon Beacons National Park.

A Just Giving page has been set up inviting donations sponsorship for the epic challenge

Businesses or individual interested in making a bid for the Phoenix sculpture should email Spencer Jones with opening bids starting at £5,000:





Oxfordshire firefighters’ film recalls the challenges of keeping residents safe during the pandemic

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service has produced a short film highlighting collaboration with other emergency services in response to Covid-19

Residents can now rely on a more experienced and well-prepared fire service, thanks to the knowledge crews have gained while adapting to the challenges of the recent pandemic.

That is the message from Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service, described in a new short film designed to highlight recent collaborations with other emergency services and showcase new ways of working over the last year.

The film is being used as part of the service’s induction and training resources. It will also be shared on social media to thank residents and show the broad range of community safety initiatives offered by Oxfordshire’s firefighters.

Gabby Heycock, Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Area Manager, explains in the video: “Covid-19 has been really challenging. Not only in the way we’ve had to respond to those emergencies we’ll always have to go to – using personal protection equipment and adapting our approach – but also, we’ve helped support our partners and organisations across the county cope with the challenges of the pandemic.

“We’ve done things like deliver laptops to schools and driven ambulances for South Central Ambulance Service. We have also used our managerial skills to set up testing centres. And we’ve done all that while maintaining an emergency service for the public of Oxfordshire.”

Local colleagues from various strands of the fire service appear in the film, including Peter Savage, from the home and community safety team. He explains how during the last year his team have visited homes of vulnerable, high-risk residents, giving them safety advice and support on how to reduce fire risks in their properties. Facemasks, hand sanitisers and safe distancing have been essentials when entering each home.

Firefighters Dave Bragg, Graham Reading and Antony Lampitt – based at Rewley Road Fire Station in Oxford – are interviewed, talking about the camaraderie between crews and how they have missed the routine interaction with communities, curtailed because of social distancing.

Pete Mackay, from the fire service’s prevention team, shares his experiences of working with the county council in delivering community testing. He proudly recalls how setting up the testing centres is something completely new to everyone involved: “A load of disparate people who haven’t worked together before,” uniting as a team to help save lives.

Becky Rimmer, Operational Watch Manager at Faringdon Fire Station, sums up the passion and determination of every firefighter: “I’m not a hero. It’s my job. I love it. For me, the job is all about going out and helping my community. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.”

And the community seems to appreciate Becky and her crew. She talks about them receiving cakes and fish ‘n’ chips from grateful residents! Becky describes this generously as “amazing”. And her close-knit team as a “second family”.

Gabby Heycock addresses residents directly, giving reassurance, in the closing sequence of the film: “During Covid, Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service has been working hard to keep you safe. As the pandemic hopefully comes to an end, we are still here for you.”

To watch the film visit:





NewcastleGateshead to host Festival of Rescue this September

The banks of the River Tyne displaying its world-famous array of beautiful bridges, stunning architecture and cultural settings looks forward to becoming the impressive backdrop for this year’s spectacular UKRO (United Kingdom Rescue Organisation) showcase

There will be a warm North East welcome for over 70 teams representing fire services from up and down the country as this September 17-18, NewcastleGateshead will host The Festival of Rescue.

This promises to be a true spectacle of resilience, expertise and full-on teamwork as firefighters and crews display their skills through a variety of specialist disciplines.

Visitors, residents, friends, family and colleagues will be cheering from the sidelines as teams tackle the intense challenges put before them from the following five categories:

  • Vehicle Extrication
  • Trauma Care
  • Urban Search and Rescue
  • Rope Rescue
  • Water Rescue.

As a charitable organisation UKRO prides itself in advancing professional rescue through the direct benefits from the rescue challenge, education workshops and the UKRO Academy.

All of the exciting events will be sandwiched between an opening and closing ceremony that will include a special awards presentation to honour the achievements gained over the two-day competition.

The Festival of Rescue looks to greet and accommodate more than 70 teams as they look to go head-to-head and be crowned the very best in their field.

Peter Heath, Deputy Chief Fire Officer of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS), said: “It will be an honour and a privilege for Tyne and Wear to host this year’s UKRO event. The past 16 months has been challenging for the emergency services as we’ve been working tirelessly on the frontline during the pandemic by continuing to keep people safe from harm.

“The Festival of Rescue will be a wonderful way for colleagues to gather and unite at the same time as showcasing some of the finest skills and techniques the Fire Service has to offer. The competitive nature of the challenges will be exciting for spectators and help to create a special atmosphere.

“People will be astounded by the amount of time and dedication our country’s firefighters devote towards honing their specialist skills. I would hope it will also fill the observers with a sense of pride that these brave men and women apply these vital skills on a daily basis to help save people’s lives in some of the most gruelling conditions imaginable.”

Neil Odin, Chair of UKRO, said: “We are looking forward to working with Tyne and Wear FRS and all partners to deliver a unique and special event for the communities of Tyne and Wear. We also offer a warm welcome to all our firefighters from across the UK who will take a great deal of pride in displaying their professional skills and aspiring to achieving high in this prestigious event. The Festival of Rescue will indeed be an event to remember.”

For further information about this year’s UKRO event visit: