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Date: 8th June 2023
Time: 10am-12pm
Price: FREE
Speakers: Dr Emily Watkins, lecturer in Exercise and Environmental Physiology at the University of Roehampton
Chief Fire Officer Ben Brook, National Fire Chiefs Council lead on Environment & Climate Change
Brian Hesler QFSM, Specialist Advisor Fire & Rescue for Draeger Safety
Martyn Matthews, Physiological Monitoring Group Lead and Senior Lecturer at the University of Salford
Host: Andrew Ledgerton-Lynch, Editor and Publisher of FIRE magazine
Sponsor: Sponsored by Draeger, an international leader in safety technology


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Improving firefighter safety is a movement and ongoing commitment to improve public safety, ensuring frontline responders are able to respond safely and effectively. This webinar presents the first step towards capturing the wide range of risks, identifying areas for improvement and making recommendations to enhance firefighter safety, health and wellbeing.

The risk to firefighter health and wellbeing does not grow with increasing awareness of the threats they face, but it does provide a rallying call to action, to be proactive in predicting the next wave of threats and how to mitigate the impact. The range of risks are too broad to be encompassed in one webinar, however it is a starting point to address the broad risks, raise awareness and disseminate knowledge and best practice.

Speakers will raise awareness of the myriad threats facing today’s firefighters and will outline recommendations for reducing risk through interventions, improved processes and procedures and the utilisation of technology and innovation.

“If you are an instructor and you are exposed to a large number of fires a month, you are possibly at risk of impacting your immune system and you may be putting yourself at higher risk of a cardiovascular event in the future”

Dr Emily Watkins, FIRE magazine, July/August 2021

Dr Emily Watkins will present her research findings on the physiological, immunological and contaminant monitoring of firefighters and instructors and recommendations on hydration and introducing pre- and post-cooling mechanisms as well as the development of physiological monitoring devices.

“Every fire and rescue authority needs to consider the impact of climate change. Our communities are going to change. Most community risk management plans cover three to five years. But this is 20 to 100 years in the future”

CFO Ben Brook, FIRE magazine, April 2023

As organisations move towards carbon net zero and the sustainability agenda drives the need to use alternative fuels, the risks to firefighters and the public are coming to the fore, with fires involving lithium-ion batteries highlighting the difficulties of firefighting operations. Against a backdrop of increasing frequency of extreme incidents such as flooding and wildfires, how will fire and rescue services have to adapt to respond to these challenges?

Who should attend?

Anyone interested in firefighter safety and the emerging risks due to the impact of climate change and the growing evidence and awareness of hazards such as carcinogens and the effects of heat stress.

It will be of particular interest to frontline firefighters and those with an interest in improving firefighter and public protection.

  • Firefighters and frontline responders
  • Senior leaders in fire and emergency response
  • Fire and rescue personnel
  • Occupational health professionals
  • Human resources professionals
  • Fire authority members
  • Police fire and crime commissioners
  • Fire industry equipment suppliers
  • Fire sector experts and stakeholders
  • Leaders from blue light services

Learning outcomes

  • Gain an understanding of the acute risks facing firefighters from harmful carcinogens
  • Gain an understanding of the impact of heat stress on firefighters and instructors caused by lengthy exposure
  • Gain an understanding of the extreme impact of climate change and the impact of fires involving alternative fuels
  • Develop awareness of the issues that threaten firefighter and public safety
  • Gain an understanding of the guidance currently available and the knowledge gaps
  • Reflect on where fire and rescue services are in being aware of and responding to the impact of carcinogens and heat stress
  • Develop a deeper understanding of the steps that need to be taken individually and organisationally to improve firefighter safety


Dr Emily Watkins, Lecturer and Researcher in Environmental and Exercise Physiology, University of Roehampton Dr Emily Watkins is a Lecturer and Researcher in Environmental and Exercise Physiology at the University of Roehampton. She gained her PhD from the University of Brighton in 2018, having studied the physiological and immunological consequences of Fire Service Instructors’ working practices. Over the last few years Emily has been working on studies focusing on the health and well-being of Firefighters, with particular emphasis on thermoregulation and inflammation. Emily was also an invited advisor to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer review of the association between firefighting and cancer. Her talk will discuss the findings and recommendations from her latest research on chronic inflammation and contaminants following a 6 month study of firefighters and instructors.


Ben Brook, Chief Fire Officer, Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service Ben Brook is the Chief Fire Officer in Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service. Ben has been a leader within the sector for over 22 years and is passionate about the future of the sector. The past is unlikely to always be a predictor of the future and with temperatures reaching 40 degrees last summer, it has been demonstrated that the world can change quickly, and that climate change is being felt in the UK. Ben is keen to develop a space for thinking about how best the Fire and Rescue sector can continue to reduce risk and support vulnerable communities into the future.


Brian Hesler QFSM, Specialist Advisor Fire & Rescue for Draeger Safety Brian Hesler QFSM is a Specialist Advisor Fire & Rescue for Draeger Safety. He has 33 years’ experience working across the UK Fire Service primarily in Operational and Training roles. Brian worked through the ranks from Firefighter, ultimately serving in Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service as Chief Fire Officer and Director of Community Safety for seven years. He achieved an MSc in Fire Command and Management and was awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal in 2008. Brian will provide a brief overview of why there is a real need to provide real-time monitoring of the core body temperatures of firefighters.


Martyn Matthews, Physiological Monitoring Group Lead at the University of Salford Martyn Matthews is Physiological Monitoring Group Lead and Senior Lecturer at the University of Salford. He has 35 years’ experience providing applied physiological and conditioning support to professional athletes and teams, national teams, extreme adventurers, military personnel, and the emergency services, as well as the evaluation of training and environmental products. Martyn will provide a brief overview of the challenges of monitoring core body temperature in real-time in firefighters and the suitability of different solutions.



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