Hertfordshire Director of Community Protection & CFO Roy Wilsher said he was delighted to be able to "recognise and celebrate the contributions of our excellent workforce in a banner year for the county council".

The fourth annual awards held at the Fielder Centre in Hatfield last week [20 Sept] saw winners acknowledged in nine categories across the Community Protection directorate.

But Wilsher added that, "the great thing is those awarded are just a small proportion of the amount people who do great work".

"All the nominations come from people within the directorate, they don't come from us [management], they are nominated by their peers and we had 63 nominations this year from across the categories - but the only thing is, is that it makes it harder to choose! There's so many good initiatives and so much good work and that can only be good for the future of the council and the fire & rescue service."

Here's a look at the winners and the stories of their success:

Community Safety Initiative of the Year: Crash Bang  

Crash Bang is a multi-agency initiative aimed at highlighting the risks and potential consequences of dangerous driving to youth offenders by inviting them to take part in a realistic reconstruction of a multi-vehicle crash.

This year, the scheme has continued to go from strength to strength. To date, only one out of 154 participants has re-offended and Watford magistrate's court recently decided that every young driver convicted of a serious motor offence must attend a Crash Bang exercise as part of their referral order.

Diversity Award: Hitchin Sikh Activity Programme 

Hitchin Station's Sikh Activity Programme aims to increase awareness of fire safety among the Sikh community. This is done by working alongside volunteers from the Sikh community to deliver safety talks and carry out home fire safety checks, with the volunteers translating when needed and helping firefighters understand Sikh culture. The project has been hugely successful and was even featured recently on Sky TV's 'Sikh Channel'.

Most successful partnership initiative: 'Operation Sponge Pudding'  

'Operation Sponge Pudding' is a new scheme pioneered by the Berkhamsted Safer Neighbourhood Team in partnership with Community Meals and the Fire and Rescue Service. The scheme sees Police

Community Support Officers and members of the Fire and Rescue Service accompany Community Meals' delivery drivers on their rounds in the Berkhamsted area to carry out fire safety and security checks on the properties they deliver to.

Reports suggest that since the scheme began there has been a notable drop in the number of house fires in the Berkhamsted area, which was previously one of the highest fire activity areas in Dacorum.  

Community Award: Box Cleva 

Box Cleva is a non-contact boxing initiative for young people aged between nine and 15. Devised by Watch Commander and former professional boxer Bob Williams, the scheme aims to reduce anti-social and criminal activities in the community by engaging young people in a positive, physical activity that encourages self-discipline and respect.

The scheme sees participants attend free, weekly non-contact exercise sessions with former professional boxers and qualified coaches. These physical sessions are also supported by educational sessions covering areas such as healthy eating, the risks of substance abuse and community awareness.

Innovation: Command and Control 

As ever, this year Fire Control has endeavoured to ensure that it is providing the best possible service to people in Hertfordshire. The groundbreaking Buddy Partnership with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service is now fully operational and is being held up as a model for the rest of the country and other authorities to follow.

The team has also been working hard to prevent hoax calls; attending station open days and working with youth groups and schools to raise awareness of the dangers of making such calls. They have also begun to log hoax calls more efficiently so that they can identify problem areas and premises and address the issues.

Team Performance of the year: The Lea Valley White Water Centre Safety Advisory Group (Andrew Butler, Steve Tant, John Boulter, Dave Gould and Alex Radley) 

In 2010 a Safety Advisory Group (SAG) was established for the Lea Valley White Water Centre with the primary objective of ensuring that the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) delivered a safe venue for spectators during the games.

SAG robustly challenged LOCOG on a number of logistical problems to guarantee the highest level of spectator safety. Their joint multi-agency inspections frequently highlighted areas for improvement, with one inspection at a test event revealing security issues that were subsequently addressed by LOCOG and its contractors.

Retained fire station of the year: Buntingford  

Once again, this year has seen the Buntingford crew go over and above what is expected of them, with the team scoring top marks in their most recent station audit. They have involved themselves in a number of community safety initiatives, from Pub Safety to Drink Drive campaigns, and have held numerous events for the public on fire safety. The crew has also proved to be one of the most charitable; they have held a number of fundraising events in aid of local charities including Cancer Research and the Heart Foundation and were last year's Cotton Cup winners.

Wholetime Fire Station of the Year: Hemel Hempstead 

Hemel Hempstead personnel have yet again demonstrated a high level of dedication and proficiency in the last twelve months. They have been involved in a multitude of community engagement events and initiatives, engaging with more than 13,000 local people in the past year alone. Figures and reports suggest that this contact has been beneficial, with the numbers of fire injuries in the area dropping by a staggering 64 percent. The station also played a prominent part during the Olympic Torch Relay, delivering messages to hundreds of local residents as the torch passed through the town.

Employee of the year  

Joint winner: Alexandra Radley, Resilience Team 

As the county council lead for Olympics resilience work, Alex has taken on a great deal of extra responsibility during the last twelve months. As the sole link between the Government's Civil Contingencies Secretariat and multi-agency partners in Hertfordshire and chair of the Local Resilience Forum task and finish group, Alex worked tirelessly to guarantee that Hertfordshire's resilience planning remained focused, satisfied Central Government requests and that all of those involved in the Games were prepared to respond to any incident that could affect the Olympic venue in the Lee Valley.

She also worked closely with Hertfordshire Constabulary to ensure that the council participated in all the necessary Olympics exercises and even provided them with invaluable support during non-resilience related activities, such as the torch relay. From start to finish, Alex has shown herself to be a great leader and has been praised highly for her methodical and conscientious approach.

Joint Winner: David Elliott, Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service 

Watch Commander David Elliott has become a key player in Watford's community. He has a natural passion for community engagement and has worked tirelessly throughout the course of the last year to generate new and exciting initiatives within the district, as well as carrying out the community safety work expected of him as a member of the service. To name but a few, he has played a pivotal role in the Side by Side project, the Partnership Protected Area Project, the Holywell Community Partnership and Megadrive campaign. He has also organised an annual event with Watford Football Club, where young adults from the Watford Football Trust are educated about road safety, and has even found time to play cricket, representing the Fire Service in the Bishop's Cup.

In addition to the main awards, the contributions made to the Fire Fighters' Charity by fire stations in the region were also acknowledged as they raised a combined total of £114,000 for the charity in the past year. Bishops Stortford were highlighted as the top contributing wholetime fire station at £244.83 per person, just outdone by top performing retained fire station, Berkhamstead, who made £263.66 per person.

Posted 26/09/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com