Fire News March 2020
The National Resilience capability has been deployed to attend several major incidents across the country in the wake of a number of severe storms
As the latest storm hits the country, several major incidents have been declared. As FIRE went to press severe warnings were in place in Shropshire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire following widespread flooding.
The National Fire Chiefs Council’s National Resilience has already deployed assets to South Wales. Responses are run in conjunction with organisations such as DEFRA and the Environment Agency. With more than 600 flood warnings and alerts in place across England, this is more than any other day on record. Additional warnings are in place in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The major incident in South Wales follows towns and villages north of Cardiff being subjected to more than a month’s worth of rainfall in 48 hours.
Flood boats, a high volume pump (HVP) including a double hose box module and a pump module are among the assets deployed nationally. The modules each have a pump and three kilometres of hose to assist with pumping and moving water over long distances. HVPs have the capacity to move up to 7,000 litres of water per minute. There are 52 on the national register across England and Wales that can be deployed to assist affected areas.
National Resilience Arrangements
- This national response means teams and equipment can be deployed quickly and effectively. This is coordinated by the National Fire Chiefs Council’s National Resilience (NR) arrangements.
- Fire services and voluntary organisations have more than 93 powered rescue boat teams and 35 non-powered rescue boat teams immediately available for deployment.
- The National Resilience Assurance Team, supported by lead NFCC officers, coordinates the national response, provides vital support to government and supports fire and rescue services with additional assets.
- NR also provides invaluable support in response to these nationally significant incidents, working to the National Coordination and Advisory Framework (NCAF), to ensure a flexible response is put in place.
- Highly experienced fire and rescue service strategic and tactical advisers support affected areas, which has been consistently demonstrated since the Cumbria floods in 2005.
- Fire and rescue services also coordinate a national response to wide area flooding on behalf of DEFRA through a well-established and highly effective NCAF.
In addition, South Wales have a wide range of assets at the incident, including Flood Rescue Tactical Advisors, flood boats, their own HVP ancillary equipment module and HVP Pump Module.
Rescue boat crews from fire and rescue services and the voluntary sector have carried out rescues and evacuations of the public from flooded properties across the area.
This type of national response is provided from a register of national assets from both fire services and voluntary agencies, to support a national response. The situation continues to be monitored and the response will be adjusted as the situation changes.
In addition, National Resilience has also been deployed to another incident – although at this stage it is not confirmed whether it is related to Storm Dennis – which saw a wall collapse in Macclesfield, Cheshire.
As a result, a number of homes were evacuated. Resources including a search and rescue dog were requested and a team from Merseyside attended, Greater Manchester Technical Rescue Unit were mobilised and the Ambulance Service, along with a Hazardous Area Response Team, were at the scene.
Fire chiefs respond to latest Home Office fire statistics
Reacting to the Home Office figures, the Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council, Roy Wilsher, raised his concerns about fatalities not falling – despite the reduction in the number of incidents attended
The latest statistics published by the Home Office show that while the number of fires attended by fire and rescue services have reduced by ten per cent, there was a nine per cent increase in dwelling fire fatalities over a 12-month period.
The release covers the year ending September 2019. It contains statistics on all incidents, fire-related fatalities and casualties from fires across England.
Roy Wilsher said: “It is pleasing to see the number of incidents has reduced by five per cent overall, and by ten per in the number of fires attended. However, I am very concerned to see the number of fatalities has increased over the same timeframe; I would like to see more information and as to why this is.
“I have made it clear that fire services are facing huge challenges when it comes to the built environment. This was abundantly clear from evidence given during the opening days of the second phase on the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. While fire and rescue services are doing all they can to minimise risk, two decades of building safety failure is not their responsibility to fix.
“The reality is we need to ensure services can maintain – and improve – operational response while aligning integrated risk plans to this area of work. The new reality of the built environment which has emerged post Hackitt Building Safety Programme work is proving – in some cases – to be a largely unknown factor which we need to be able to respond to and understand.
“Once again, this highlights the absolute reality that services are resourced to risk and not just demand. We are working closely with the LGA on the next Comprehensive Spending Review, and we will have a dedicated team working within the Home Office on the CSR submission.
Mr Wilsher concluded by saying: “It is essential we do not become complacent about the reduction in the number of incidents attended as the bigger picture is showing a more worrying trend.”
Emergency services named top employers for LGBT staff
Six emergency service organisations have made the Top 100 Employers list, compiled by lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality charity Stonewall
- Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service named most inclusive emergency services organisation for a third year, keeping their place at third spot
- Six emergency services in total place in this year’s list of LGBT-inclusive employers
- Derbyshire Fire and Rescue enters list for the first time at number 99
The Top 100 is the UK’s definitive list ranking employers from across public, private and third sectors on how LGBT inclusive their workplaces are. This year’s Top 100 was the most competitive ever with 503 employers vying for a coveted spot.
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service continue to be the sector leader for a fourth year, maintaining their position in the top ten at number three.
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service also received special commendation as a top trans-inclusive employer. The organisation has demonstrated their commitment to LGBT equality through initiatives such as hosting ‘Proud to Provide’, a national conference exploring ways in which the public sector can better meet the needs of LGBT service users.
Mark Cashin, Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive of Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Over the past ten years, we have worked hard to create a workplace where LGBT colleagues feel safe and able to reach their full potential. As a result, we are attracting more LGBT people into the service than ever before and our latest staff survey showed that LGBT colleagues are among the happiest and most engaged in the organisation.
“A diverse workforce makes us better able to understand the needs of our increasingly diverse communities. For that reason, our focus this year has been on promoting the importance of LGBT inclusion in the way we provide our services.
“We are delighted that Stonewall has recognised this work and proud to have retained our position in the Top 100 Employers list. It is hugely important to us that we remain visible champions for LGBT inclusion.”
Derbyshire Fire and Rescue are a new entry to the Top 100 list this year, landing at 99.
Stonewall research shows that one in seven LGBT employees (14 per cent) do not feel able to be themselves at work and almost one in five LGBT people (18 per cent) have experienced discrimination when applying for jobs because of their identity.
Sanjay Sood-Smith, Stonewall’s Executive Director of Workplace and Community Programmes, said: “Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service and all of the emergency services organisations in this year’s Top 100 Employer’s list are playing a huge role in improving the lives of LGBT people, and should be very proud of their work.
“We still don’t live in a world where everyone is able to be themselves in the workplace, as we know more than a third of LGBT staff (35 per cent) hide who they are at work. By taking steps to make their workplaces supportive and welcoming of all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, these organisations are bringing us closer to a world where everyone is accepted without exception.”
Full results of the Top 100 Employers list can be found online at: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/full-list-top-100-employers-2020
Hundreds of public sector leaders gather in London to tackle country’s biggest issues
The National Leadership Centre, the body set up to bring senior leaders together and improve public sector leadership, held its inaugural flagship event
- The National Leadership Centre’s inaugural event brought over 400 of the UK’s leading public service professionals together
- Public sector heads gathered to discuss critical issues including emergency responses and how best to support vulnerable citizens
Hundreds of the sector’s leading figures came together for the first time, including chief constables, fire chiefs and CEOs of Hospital Trusts.
The event, hosted by Naga Munchetty, included keynote speakers from experts across the public and private sectors, including Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, Head of Amazon UK Dr Doug Gurr and Mayor GT Bynum of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Sir Mark Sedwill, Cabinet Secretary, and one of the key architects of the NLC, said: “The NLC was created to deliver a flagship programme for our public service leaders, who perform vital and highly challenging work. Everyone involved in the NLC is committed to helping these leaders cultivate a network of peers with whom they can share vital experiences and lessons from the front-line. Increased collaboration and integration of public services is essential as we head into ever-more complex and challenging operating environments.”
Speaking on the importance of the NLC and bringing public sector leaders together, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Strong and capable leaders are essential in our drive to improve our public sector – the Centre’s mission to better support and bring together public leaders will be a key part of ensuring we have the best people driving improvement.”
The NLC will be running smaller pop-up, action-led leadership sessions across the country for public sector leaders later in the year.
South Yorkshire publishes outcomes from year of campaigning
An anthology detailing the outcomes of a dozen communication campaigns has been unveiled by South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue
Campaigns featured ranged from those designed to recruit firefighters from under-represented groups, to staff behaviour change initiatives and fire prevention drives.
The service’s Campaign Highlights mirrors a similar document published by the government each year to explain the impact communication and marketing activity has had on the UK.
Outcomes listed in the document include a 230 per cent increase in women registering their interest in firefighting as a career following a viral video push on International Women’s Day.
Others include a pet inspired safety campaign which contributed to a 30 per cent drop in electrical fires, 43 per cent increase in Home Safety Check referrals and 200 per cent increase in staff accessing mental health information on the service’s intranet.
Alexander Mills, Corporate Communication Manager, said: “Each of the campaigns listed – like recruiting female firefighters, promoting mental wellbeing amongst firefighters or reducing house fires – supports the priorities set out in our organisation’s corporate narrative.
“We are a relatively small communication team of four people and want to use our work to show our staff, public and partners the impact that properly planned, properly measured campaigns can have on the organisation we work for.”
To view the service’s Campaign Highlights 2018-19 visit: http://www.syfire.gov.uk/safety-advice/latest-safety-campaigns/
One hundred and forty-three hot works fires in Scotland last year
Following a freedom of information request to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, it has been revealed that there were 180 fires in the construction industry in 2018/19, 143 (79 per cent) of which were the result of hot works
CE Safety, a health and safety training provider, submitted the freedom of information request which disclosed that 51 fires during this period were caused by welding or cutting equipment, 22 by manufacturing equipment and 23 by kilns or other services. These fires resulted in 21 casualties.
Hot works refer to any task that requires using open flames or applying heat or friction that may generate sparks or heat. More specifically, it is defined by the British Standards Institution (BSI) in BS 9999 as: ‘Any procedure that might involve or have the potential to generate sufficient heat, sparks or flame to cause a fire’. Examples of hot works include welding, flame-cutting, soldering, brazing, grinding and the use of other equipment incorporating a flame.
Hot works pose a particular threat within the construction sector as the cause of multiple fires in buildings.
The most common examples of hot works and those that can pose significant risks without proper safety precautions include:
- Brazing and soldering
- Gas/electric welding cutting apparatus
- Grinding wheels and cutting discs
- Thawing pipes
- Open flames, blow lamps and blow torches
- Bitumen and tar boilers
- Hot air blowers and lead heaters.
Gary Ellis from CE Safety said: “A variety of industries, construction, in particular, may require hot work to be carried out in their premises as part of routine work activities. It is also frequently carried out as part of contractual work, which is common in construction.
“However, no matter who does it, they must know what kind of hazards hot work presents and how to prevent it from causing harm.
“The consequences of these hazards can be severe and costly for any business. Injuries can result in workers taking time off work, while a serious fire could damage a building irreparably. Both of these could even lead to legal consequences under certain circumstances. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how to implement appropriate safety controls.”
Due to the high-risk nature of hot works, the BS 9999 and the Health and Safety Executive outline various safety procedures that organisations must adhere to. Their aim is to protect workers from dangerous aspects of hot work and to prevent fires from breaking out.
More information can be found at:
End to End Cycle Challenge 2020
FIRE reports on the forthcoming Land’s End to John O’Groats cycle challenge, focusing this month on the participants
In May a team of predominantly retired firefighters from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (OFRS) will take on the gruelling challenge of cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats. Why would a group of people no longer in their first flush of youth (their words) want to put themselves through such an ordeal? Here are some of their thoughts.
Dave Etheridge (53)
“May 2020 will be a month of physical ups and downs as we cycle from one end of the UK to the other via a challenging and very hilly route. I lost my father to bowel cancer in late 2018 and having witnessed the journey a close friend has been forced down through her battle with this disease, their ups and downs were far greater and challenging. Luckily, my close friend has beaten cancer and is now on the road to recovery. As well as raising money for charity, raising the profile of bowel cancer will hopefully save many others from need to tackle their own physical and mental ups and downs too.”
Gary Mattingley (52)
“My cycling history is not long but does have a long-distance vibe to it, beginning with an OFRS team ride from Oxford to Bonn. This will be my third End to End but my first from ‘bottom to top’. Charity fundraising was a feature of the previous rides and this will be no different, raising vital funds for two fantastic organisations. I have seen the positive impact that The Fire Fighters Charity has had on some of my closest friends and colleagues in supporting their recovery from physical and mental trauma. I lost my aunt to bowel cancer, which is why I want to support Bowel Cancer UK. I know how much fundraising means in supporting vital research into understanding this cancer, how to treat it and support those undergoing treatment.”
Bob Paterson (60)
“This will be my eighth End to End ride! Why? Because it helps in so many ways. Cycling helps by raising funds, improving mental health, it challenges you and brings people together in common, essential causes. Losing a son and having a disabled son, I have needed the support The Fire Fighters Charity gave me, along with that given by family, friends and work colleagues. At your lowest you need help and charities give that help but they need support too. In 2007, the Fire Service family helped me on my first ride challenge to allow me to give something back and this is another opportunity to give more.”
Clive Durbin (67)
“As the new boy on station in 1982 I was handed The Fire Fighters Charity station rep job. Almost immediately I saw the good that the Charity did following a recuperation visit that I arranged for a retired firefighter. From then on supporting the charity became a ‘no-brainer’. Supporting Bowel Cancer UK began when a close friend lost his wife to bowel cancer. This ride continues that support. Being a support driver for one of Bob’s rides in 2010 got me into cycling. I rode from Oxford to Bonn with Gary in 2013 and an End to End in 2016 so I am under no illusions as to how difficult this ride will be (age and the route chosen will see to that!), but then nothing worthwhile is supposed to be easy.”
Shaun Waters (53)
“I joined OFRS at the tender age of 18 in 1986 and enjoyed the next 31 years as a whole-time firefighter. After a short break I’m now back as an on-call firefighter at the not so tender age of 53 at my local station in Witney. After losing my mother to cancer and having friends and colleagues succumb to the Big C, I really want to contribute to awareness of and research into cancer. This ride will allow me to do that by raising money for Bowel Cancer UK alongside money for The Fire Fighters Charity.”
Gary Stables (60)
“I am the non-firefighter of the team and have wanted to take on this personal challenge for some time so when I was offered the chance to ride with this team, I had no hesitation in taking it. I have family and friends that have been affected in one way or another by bowel cancer. When we complete the journey in May, we will have raised a significant amount of money that will help research into cures for bowel cancer, which can only be good. By completing the ride I can give something back, have some fun and make memories with friends that will last a lifetime. The team would like to say a huge thank you to their sponsors Brikcoin, gci health, PBI Performance Products Inc, Bristol Uniforms Ltd and HR Solutions Hub for their invaluable support in helping make this ride the success we are hoping for.”
If you would like to support the team by donating to the challenge, visit: virginmoneygiving.com/Team/BrikcoinEndtoEndChallenge2020.
New children’s book is #firefightingsexism by challenging gender roles
London Fire Brigade is working with Butterfly Books to produce a new children’s picture book that aims to tackle misconceptions about women’s roles in the emergency services
- My Mummy Is A Firefighter, to launch on March 3, is the seventh book in the series, which includes titles My Mummy Is A Scientist, My Mummy Is A Soldier and My Daddy Is A Nurse
- The book will tackle gender misconceptions about women’s roles in the emergency services
- The book launch is a partnership with London Fire Brigade and Butterfly Books – the publishing house founded by award-winning chartered electrical engineer Kerrine Bryan, which was set up to communicate to children positive messages about professions suffering from skill gaps and lacking diversity
My Mummy Is A Firefighter, to be released on March 3, will be the seventh book in a series of titles for four to seven-year-olds that showcases inspiring female role models undertaking jobs or professions that are stereotypically portrayed as being performed by men. Previous titles include My Mummy Is A Plumber, My Mummy Is A Scientist and My Mummy Is A Soldier – the latter of which was released in March 2019 in collaboration with the British Army to showcase the diversity of jobs women assume within the forces from veterinary surgeon to bomb disposal expert.
Currently, about 300 out of London’s 5,000 firefighters are women – just seven per cent.
Keeley Foster, Deputy Assistant Commissioner and Head of Culture, Talent and Recruitment at London Fire Brigade, said: “The Fire Service, much like any public service, needs to reflect the diversity of the society it serves. Modern firefighting is much more than just putting out fires, blue lights and sirens. It’s a varied role and there are many career paths that can be pursued within the organisation. From fire prevention work within the community, to specialist rescue skills and working on our fire investigations team. It’s a varied and flexible career path for someone who doesn’t want a desk-based job.
“We haven’t used the term ‘fireman’ in 30 years. It reinforces the misconception that only men can do the job of a firefighter. Our partnership with Butterfly Books will see My Mummy Is A Firefighter sparking children’s imaginations by showing just how many exciting jobs there are for women within the fire brigade.”
London Fire Brigade’s #firefightingsexism campaign is aimed at attracting more women to the fire service and challenging the outdated stereotype that only men can be firefighters.
Founder of Butterfly Books, Kerrine Bryan, set up the independent publishing house with her brother Jason Bryan in 2015. Bryan commented: “We want children to understand that the world is their oyster, and that they can be anything they want to be if they are passionate, determined and hardworking enough. Gender shouldn’t be a barrier to pursuing a dream. But these dreams need to be nurtured and protected from an early age by challenging conventional narratives. Personally, working within a profession where there are fewer women, I know first-hand that if youngsters don’t see people who look like them doing a certain job, then they are less likely to go for it. So, we need to work hard to recast our messages and the even the language we use with children to ensure we don’t inhibit broadening of their horizons.”
My Mummy Is A Firefighter (Butterfly Books), RRP £6.99 is available at: www.butterflybooks.uk.
“Incredibly proud” of fire and rescue service flooding response
National Fire Chiefs Council Chair Roy Wilsher praises Fire Service response to the flooding across the UK and calls for a boost in funding from government to support response
It is hard to believe almost three months of 2020 have passed already. I reflected on this in a recent blog post, highlighting the challenges which demand the focus of the NFCC, fire and rescue services and fire authorities across the UK.
We know there is an extensive agenda of work planned for this year, but more importantly there are also the emergency operational events services have to contend with.
Mid-February saw Storm Dennis, hard on the heels of Storm Ciara, hit the country and at one point there were more than 600 flood warning and alerts in place across England; more than any other day on record. There were many more impacting across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
We saw the NFCC’s National Resilience function (NR) deploy to South Wales to assist following more than a month’s rainfall in less than 48 hours.
I am incredibly proud of the professional and timely response fire and rescue services – in conjunction with our partners and other agencies – provide to major incidents. However, the number of deployments we make are increasing, which leads me on to the area of resourcing and funding.
The public have high levels of trust in their fire service to deliver and assist across a range of emergencies, which was highlighted in the recent HMICRFS State of Fire Report. Therefore, it is vital we can continue to provide this type of response and are given the correct level of funding to ensure it remains an achievable reality. It is also time to raise the question of a statutory duty for flooding in England again. Government never dealt fully with the 2009 Pitt review recommendations.
“The Grenfell Inquiry is likely to restart at the beginning of March; the Phase 2 evidence that we heard in the first few days alone beggars belief”
It has been announced that the budget is set to go ahead on March 11 and we are likely to see more detail about the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), which we are expecting to conclude by summer recess; I sincerely hope that our work highlighting areas within fire and rescue such as boosting protection resources, which need attention, are addressed by the Home Office.
For the first time ever, we, in partnership with the LGA Fire Services Management Committee, will have a dedicated fire team working within the Home Office on the CSR submission which should put us in a better place to influence and set achievable foundations for the future. Although I am not expecting this approach to resolve all our issues in one go.
The recent government reshuffle saw a new Minister of State for Housing announced and I look forward to his approach in areas related to building safety. MPs at the recent Westminster Hall debate on cladding and leaseholders made their views perfectly clear; people were suffering as a result of living in ACM-clad buildings and these costings should not be passed on to individuals.
There were also calls for a parliamentary debate to discuss this issue further, with fewer time constraints. I maintain it is indefensible that we still have buildings with ACM3 cladding across the country.
The Grenfell Inquiry is likely to restart at the beginning of March; the Phase 2 evidence that we heard in the first few days alone beggars belief.
This evidence served to reinforce the view that firefighters could not know the extent of what they were going to face that night. It is vital that the Inquiry leaves no stone unturned during this second phase. The bereaved, survivors and families must get the answers they need; this is the absolute minimum they deserve.
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