LGBT+ and young people contributions celebrated at Excellence in Fire & Emergency Awards 2019

This year’s Excellence in Fire & Emergency Awards included a moving tribute to one of the judges, retiring London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton, and saw a suite of new awards celebrating inclusion and diversity in the Fire and Rescue Service

FIRE magazine publisher Fire Knowledge – in partnership with Gore-tex Products and Babcock – would like to thank all those who attended the Excellence in Fire & Emergency Awards (EFEs). FIRE would also like to thank our category and on-the-day sponsors. The EFEs proved to be an exclusive gathering uniting suppliers and industry supporters with chief officers to recognise the very best of UK trade in partnership with emergency services. The roll of honour for the 2019 awards are:

Emergency Service of the Year – Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service

Resilience & Learning from Major Incidents – West Midlands Training, Exercising and Learning Group

Innovation of the Year – Fire Escape Hoods, introduced by Steve Collins, London Fire Brigade

Collaboration of the Year – West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, London Fire Brigade, Essex Fire and Rescue Service, Anglia Ruskin University

Emergency Services Collaboration of the Year – Joint Community Safety Department, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and South Yorkshire Police

Training Provider of the Year – Learning and Development, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service

Project of the Year – NE Area Corrosive Substance Attack Team – GM Jenkins, GM Prasad, GM Vitalis, GM Gustafson, SM Carpenter, DAC Perez – London Fire Brigade

Team of the Year – The Community Development and Safeguarding Team, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

FIRE Magazine Thought Leadership Award – Major General Expert Rashid Thani Al Matrooshi, Director General of Dubai Civil Defence

Young People’s Supporter of the Year – Nick Quinlan, Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service


Youth Champion of the Year Award winner Kleria Mendes (right), London Fire Brigade, with fellow Fire Cadet, Brendan Croft, LFB


Youth Champion of the Year – Kleria Mendes, London Fire Brigade

Most Influential Woman in Fire – Alex Johnson, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue


Most Influential LGBT+ Individual in Fire Award winner, Pat Carberry, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service


Most Influential LGBT+ Individual in Fire – Pat Carberry, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service

International Best Practice – University of Central Lancashire, School of Engineering (Fire Team)

Most Influential BAME Individual in Fire – Yasmin Bukhari, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service

Outstanding Contribution to the Fire and Rescue Service – Roger Nunn, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service

Unsung Hero Award – Candy Woods, West Midlands Fire Service.


Opening the ceremony, FIRE Editor Andrew Lynch paid tribute to the career and contribution of former London firefighter and Fire Minister Jim Fitzpatrick. He also gave a moving tribute to London Commissioner Dany Cotton on the day of the announcement of her retirement being brought forward to the end of the year. He told the audience: “Nobody in the history of the UK Fire and Rescue Service has done more to raise the profile of women in the Service nor done more to raise awareness of mental health issues. She has touched the life of thousands of people.” Dany received a prolonged standing ovation from her peers, many of whom included colleagues from London. See pg 29 for report and photos from the awards.



South Yorkshire appoints Chief Fire Officer

Alex Johnson has been appointed by South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority as its new Chief Fire Officer

Alex Johnson was appointed following a selection process which included a written application and panel interview with members of the fire authority.


Alex joined South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue as Assistant Chief Fire Officer in 2017, before being promoted to Deputy Chief Fire Officer. She had previously served with Derbyshire Fire and Rescue for more than 25 years, having joined as a firefighter in 1992.

Fire Authority Chair Cllr Robert Taylor said: “Alex is an outstanding candidate who has demonstrated to fire authority members her commitment to building a successful, inclusive and positive culture at South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue.

“In addition to her obvious talent in managing and developing people, she also has a firm operational background – which has been admirably demonstrated recently through her command of the fire service’s response to the widespread flooding which has hit our region.”

Alex will take over the role in January, when the current Chief Fire Officer, James Courtney QFSM, retires. James joined South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue in 2006 and has been Chief Fire Officer since 2011.

“Fire authority members would like to thank James for the experience and leadership he has demonstrated in the role of Chief Fire Officer over the last eight years and wish him all the best for a long and happy retirement,” said Robert.

Alex said: “I inherit a successful organisation full of brilliant, talented people who are proud of the part they play in making South Yorkshire safer and stronger. Leading this organisation is the honour of a lifetime and I will do all I can to make the service a brilliant place to work, which delivers outstanding results for the communities we serve.”


New children’s book inspires young girls to become firefighters

The newly released picture book is called Firefighter Ruby: Because Girls Can Be Heroes Too!

The children’s book tells the story of Ruby, a young girl who wants to be a firefighter when she grows up because it looks exciting and fun. But her hopes are dashed when her classmates tell her that she cannot because only boys ‘can be firemen’.


The book challenges gender stereotypes in firefighting and follows Ruby on an adventure which teaches her to believe in herself and her potential.

The book has been written by Emma Greenhalgh who works for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) as a Communications Manager. She said: “There have been many dedicated and heroic firemen throughout history, whose contribution has been immeasurable. However, sadly people misusing the job title of ‘fireman’ in today’s times is wrongly giving some young girls the impression that they can’t be firefighters too, so I wanted to do something to help deliver the correct messages from the grassroots up.”

The former journalist added: “The book not only gives children a modern day understanding of what the Fire Service does in terms of the range of rescues it performs, it also paints the realistic picture that grit and determination are needed to join the Fire Service. The themes of the book, such as kindness, friendship and teamwork, also reach beyond the Fire Service so they are applicable to all children forming their identity.

“It was really important to me that the book and its illustrations were quirky and unique and that the story was engaging for children on all levels. Without wanting to spoil the ending, it ultimately leaves you with a heart-warming feeling about the magic of potential.”

Aimed at three to seven-year-olds, the book is A4 and 36 pages long with colour illustrations, and also features a special appearance from Jessie the WYFRS Urban Search and Rescue dog.

Currently, WYFRS has approximately five per cent operational female wholetime firefighters and recruitment for on-call firefighters is open at ten stations across West Yorkshire. See

You can find the Firefighter Ruby children’s book, which costs £6.99 (postage may apply), via the @FirefighterRuby Facebook page as well as on Amazon.



Fire chiefs and union respond to Grenfell Phase 1 report

The National Fire Chiefs Council and Fire Brigades Union have responded to the release of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 Report

The Phase 1 report from Inquiry Chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick contains conclusions from the first phase of the Inquiry, examining the terrible events from the night of June 14, 2017 when 72 people tragically lost their lives.

Chair of the NFCC, Roy Wilsher, commented on the exemplary representations made throughout the Inquiry by the bereaved, survivors and residents: “The Grenfell Tower fire was unparalleled in this country in terms of the scale of the impact this tragedy has had on the community; I have never seen a fire like it in my career. The way members of the Grenfell community have carried themselves throughout the last two-and-a-half years with the dignity and compassion they have in the pursuit of justice, has been truly humbling to witness.

“My thoughts are also with all those first responders at Grenfell Tower, who were put into impossible situations.

“The report includes findings related to the response on the night and these will no doubt have implications for fire and rescue services across the UK. We will be properly and carefully considering the content of the report and will respond fully in due course.”

He said that it is important to note that ‘stay put’ is a principle of building design – not a Fire Service policy. “This type of design means that the structure of the flat is designed to give appropriate protection, usually allowing people to stay in their flats, unless the fire is inside their own home, or the heat or smoke from the fire is affecting them. Where buildings are built and maintained correctly, there are many benefits to designing buildings to resist the spread of fire.”

Mr Wilsher said that the NFCC has previously raised concerns that there has been no dedicated research into emergency evacuations of high-rise buildings, in the unusual circumstances that a building’s fire protection measures fail catastrophically, as it did at Grenfell. “This is especially relevant to buildings with a single staircase with the associated difficulties of evacuating an entire block. However, NFCC believes it would be irresponsible to consider building strategy changes without properly funded and comprehensive research, as there are considerable challenges which must be factored in.”

NFCC Chair Roy Wilsher recently wrote to the government to request this and indications are that government is minded to support this. Mr Wilsher said that the NFCC has worked tirelessly since the night of June 14, 2017 in our efforts to coordinate a national response to this unacceptable tragedy, including our efforts to:

  • Help keep residents safe, by coordinating information about buildings with unsafe ACM cladding to local fire and rescue services so they can take appropriate action and work with the responsible person for the building and other responsible agencies
  • Provide advice and support to the Independent Expert Advisory Panel, established by government
  • Publish centrally coordinated guidance on temporary simultaneous evacuation strategies for buildings with an unacceptable level of fire risk, developed in co-operation with MHCLG, sector experts and other stakeholders
  • Provide robust advice and challenge from fire safety experts into government reviews examining how to make buildings safer, including the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety by Dame Judith Hackitt
  • Responded to government consultations to provide evidence to influence change.

 Mr Wilsher stressed the desperate need to strengthen the whole underpinning building regulations system. “UK fire and rescue services will take every opportunity to reflect on the lessons identified in the report and turn these into lessons learned, and make any changes necessary to strengthen the Fire and Rescue Service we provide to the public. However, fire and rescue services cannot be expected to fully mitigate fires that break out in buildings that are not built or maintained in accordance with the building regulations, or where the regulations themselves are inadequate.

“Significant action must be taken to improve the building and construction industry, regulations and address the broken system, identified by Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review. The failure of those responsible for these buildings to step up to their obligations is putting residents and firefighters at risk.”

FBU Response

Matt Wrack, FBU General Secretary, said: “The Inquiry’s interim report must finally be a turning point for fire safety in the UK. Warning after warning from previous fires were ignored; central government must now take responsibility for ensuring that recommendations are applied nationwide, not just in London; this has never simply been a matter for the London Fire Brigade. That change can only be achieved by establishing a new, credible and accountable body responsible for Fire and Rescue Service policy in the UK.

“Firefighters stand in solidarity with the bereaved, survivors and residents and share their grief for the lives lost that night. They have an absolute right to ask difficult questions. However, we have said from the start that the order of issues to be investigated has been entirely wrong. The Inquiry’s structure prioritises scrutiny of firefighters, who did everything that they could to save lives, over investigating the critical issues of public safety that led to the fire and caused it to spread in such a disastrous manner.

“Before any firefighter arrived that night, Grenfell Tower was a death trap. Firefighters that night acted bravely in impossible circumstances, many of them repeatedly risking their own lives to save others. We welcome that this is reflected in the Inquiry’s report.

“Firefighters and control room staff are, as with any profession, only able to operate within their training and procedures. It is clear that no one had planned or prepared for an incident like Grenfell. The planning by Fire Service policy makers did not take account of a fire where compartmentation failed on such a scale.

“It’s disgraceful that over two years since the fire and there has been no major review or assessment of the ‘stay put’ policy. This could have been done within months of the fire and we have raised this with government ministers on numerous occasions. Concerns about ‘stay put’ policy were raised with central government years before Grenfell, the government must stop dragging its heels and recognise the urgent need to act.

“There was no other evacuation policy available to firefighters on the night, the report rightly recognises this. Those on the ground believed that a whole-scale evacuation would have been unsafe, potentially causing further fatalities.

“We strongly refute the report’s assertion that it would have been possible or safe to evacuate more than 150 people via a narrow smoke-logged stairwell with just 30 firefighters. There is no evidence to suggest that this was possible. It is particularly alarming that the Inquiry failed on this issue to seek the advice of its own expert advisor on firefighting matters. There is therefore currently no way of knowing if evacuation could have saved more lives.

“We are disappointed that the report makes no reference to the vast additional resources needed to implement its recommendations. It’s time for government to provide national leadership, to properly fund and coordinate fire and rescue services and ensure these urgent matters of public safety are addressed.

“The true culprits of the fire are those who wrapped the building in flammable cladding, who gutted the UK’s fire safety regime, who ignored the warnings from previous fires, and who did not hear the pleas of a community worried for their safety. We will be watching phase two of the Inquiry closely to ensure they are held to account. But we cannot wait for years for the Inquiry to conclude. Change is needed now.”

See Fire Protection News on pg 56 for more responses on the Phase 1 report.



Latest statistics show an increase in female firefighters

Latest figures published by the Home Office – covering the period from April 2018 to March 2019 – show an increase in the number of female firefighters working for fire and rescue services, which has been welcomed by the National Fire Chiefs Council

This is the first time since 2009 that the percentage increase has not been due to a decrease in the number of male firefighters (often due to retirement or finding other work). The increase in the number of female firefighters now means 6.4 per cent of firefighters are women, compared to just 3.6 per cent in 2009. And during 2018/19, 16.6 per cent of new firefighters joining fire and rescue services were women.

In addition, the number of all female staff employed by fire and rescue authorities (as at March 31, 2019) was 16.7 per cent, which compares to 14.6 per cent ten years ago.

There has been a small increase in firefighters from ethnic minority groups (4.3 per cent from 4.1 per cent in the previous year). All Fire Service staff from ethnic minority groups stands at five per cent, which is an increase from 4.7 per cent in the previous year.

Unfortunately, the statistics also reveal that attacks on firefighters have increased by three per cent. There were 961 incidents recorded, the highest number since data collection in this area began in 2010/11. This is not a complete picture as these statistics only cover incidents where firefighters are attending an emergency call.

Chair of the NFCC Roy Wilsher commented: “I am pleased to see this increase in female staff across fire and rescue services. It is really encouraging to see for the first time since 2009 that this increase is not due to male firefighters leaving the Service.

“There is much still to do but the number of new female firefighters is also on the increase which is pleasing to see. It goes to show we are increasing diversity across services and services are therefore recruiting from all sections of society and attracting the best talent. This is a clear indicator that people see the role of a firefighter as a job for all. We still have a long way to go, but those latest statistics are an encouraging step in the right direction.”

However, Mr Wilsher voiced his anger that attacks on firefighters are on the increase: “While the Home Office workforce statistics show some encouraging signs, I am appalled to see that the number of attacks on firefighters are the highest since records began. The reported figures are likely to be less than the actual attacks which take place.

“While longer prison sentences have been introduced for attacks on emergency service workers, this does not seem to have any impact on the number of attacks. Emergency services staff often put their own lives in danger in the line of duty and any sort of attack is absolutely disgusting.”



Over 1,000 attacks on firefighters, as crews face bonfire night bombardment

There were 1,170 attacks on UK firefighters in the last year, according to new research from the Fire Brigades Union

Bonfire night saw “appalling” attacks on firefighters across the UK, as overstretched and under-resourced crews faced one of their busiest nights of the year.


In England there were 961 attacks on firefighters in 2018/19, up by three per cent on the year before. Both Scotland and Wales saw attacks on firefighters rise by over a third, with 72 and 44 attacks respectively. There were 93 attacks in Northern Ireland in the same year, a five-year low.

Matt Wrack, FBU General Secretary, said: “The attacks we’ve seen on our hardworking firefighters are absolutely appalling. Firefighters put their own lives on the line to save others – they are a vital part of the community and will save anyone and everyone, regardless of who they are, which could even include their attackers.

“This bonfire night has seen attacks on overstretched and under-resourced crews across the country. The Tories have cut 11,500 firefighters since 2010; the last thing these crews need is to be attacked on one of their busiest nights of the year.”

There were six bonfire night attacks on Scottish firefighters, according to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. They responded to 665 incidents, including 359 bonfires, with control room operators handling 882 calls.

Incidents in England included firefighters in Manchester being attacked by a 40-person group throwing fireworks.


Fire chiefs concern over increase in fire fatalities

The National Fire Chiefs Council has voiced its concern that the latest Home Office figures show a six per cent increase in fire fatalities over the last year – and a 19 per cent increase in dwelling fire fatalities

According to the statistics, there has been a 14 per cent increase in the number of fires over the same period and a two per cent increase in the number of incidents attended overall, with a 16 per cent increase in deliberate fires. The Home Office figures, Fire & Rescue incident statistics, England, year ending June 2019, focuses on all incidents, fire-related fatalities and casualties.

NFCC Chair Roy Wilsher commented: “It is deeply concerning to see this increase in the number of fatalities and fires. While there were no further reductions for fire and rescue services in the most recent government spending round, these figures illustrate why we must be resourced effectively; prevent fires, meet our statutory fire protection duties and deal with risk and demand.

“For more than a decade, we saw a decline in incidents but worryingly, this seems to be reversing. Between 2013 and 2016, this had reduced to around half a million per year but this year it now stands at more than 573,000 incidents.

“I have written to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Fire and Rescue Services to highlight the long-term under investment in fire services which has impacted our core roles. NFCC will also continue to press both the Home Office and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government for further investment, particularly in fire protection.

“The recent findings of the Grenfell Inquiry Phase 1 report, coupled with recommendations from Dame Judith Hackitt’s review into building regulations, will lead to increased pressures on fire services. Therefore, we need to ensure services are given the support to transform to meet any challenges head on, with confidence.”

The increase in fires can be largely attributed to the 28 per cent increase in secondary fires due to last year’s hot weather. Fire false alarms continue to account for the majority of incidents attended (40 per cent), while fire accounted for 32 per cent with the remainder being non-fire incidents (28 per cent).

Key results:

  • There were 268 fire-related fatalities – an increase of six per cent
  • Three were 215 fire related fatalities in dwelling fires, an increase of 19 per cent
  • FRSs attended 182,491 fires – 14 per cent increase compared with the previous year
  • There were 28 per cent more secondary fires in the year ending June 2019
  • Total deliberate fires increased by 16 per cent
  • Primary dwelling fires attended by FRSs, just under three-quarters (74 per cent) were in houses, bungalows, converted flats and other properties, whilst just over a quarter (26 per cent) were in purpose-built flats
  • Seventeen per cent of all dwelling fires were in purpose-built low-rise (one to three storeys) flats/maisonettes; seven per cent were in purpose-built medium-rise (four to nine storeys) flats and three per cent were in purpose-built high-rise (ten plus storeys) flats
  • FRSs attended 798 fires in purpose-built high-rise (ten plus storeys) flats, a two per cent decrease compared with the previous year (811).



Avon delivers trucks and equipment to Gambia

Chief Fire Officer Mick Crennell and the Gambia and Avon Fire Services in Partnership team have delivered three fire engines and other equipment and uniform to the Gambian Fire Service

As part of the Gambia and Avon Fire Services in Partnership (GAFSIP), the service has been helping to enhance the capabilities of the Gambian Fire Service for nearly 30 years by providing lifesaving equipment, capability and training.

In the latest donation, Avon Fire and Rescue Service (AF&RS) has donated three fire engines along with breathing apparatus equipment and other equipment to firefighters in the region.

CFO Mick Crennell also visited various stations on his visit to the region and held meetings with Gambia’s Chief about how to continue to enhance the relationship. While on his visit, Mick expressed and confirmed the service’s commitment to continue to support and grow the relationship for the mutual benefit of both services. He said: “As a fire authority and a service, we are honoured and privileged to be able to have this partnership with the Gambian Fire and Rescue Service and we will continue to support its development.

“We have seen the level of support grow, and what’s more, we have seen the level of the professionalism of the Fire Service in the Gambia grow throughout our partnership. We have seen what a difference our equipment and training makes and the lives it has helped save. We are looking forward to the future because this partnership will only continue to get stronger and those in the region will be safer as a result.

“As an ambitious service, not only will we help those in our own communities, but also help others where we can. Anyone in the Fire Service is part of the international family and we will do what we can to help.”

CFO Mick Crennell was joined on the visit by Watch Manager and GAFSIP Trustee Paul Kirk, Firefighter Ben Coghlan, Firefighter Rob Morgan, Firefighter Pete Ballard and Watch Manager Steve McGreavy.

The Deputy Chief Fire Officer of the Gambia Fire Rescue Service, Lamin Sanyang, expressed gratitude on behalf of the service for the assistance stating that the partnership is strong and continues to grow. “We receive training manuals, practical training, and equipment. It is because of this partnership that we were able to get fully equipped fire engines as we cannot buy it ourselves. We are very proud of them.

“With this donation, we will operate as far as Wuli in the Upper River Region.” For more on GAFSIP, visit:



Fire chief’s perspective on 2019

National Fire Chiefs Council Chair Roy Wilsher looks back on the challenges and successes of the last 12 months

As we come towards the end of 2019, I have spent some time reflecting on the past 12 months and the challenges and successes we – as a sector – have had.

It is a timely reminder for me that in January I commented that 2019 would be ‘another year of change, challenges and milestones’, which it certainly has been.

The year started with several large-scale incidents requiring hundreds of firefighters to attend and work across borders; something fire and rescue services do incredibly well. These included warehouse fires in Hampshire and Lancashire, an explosion at a block of flats in West Yorkshire and wildfires as early as February.

While in recent weeks, Scotland responded to the collapse of a tenement building in Glasgow with 60 firefighters in attendance over a three-day period.

Our National Resilience (NR) this year has proved time and time again how effective it is, yet fire services’ input at these national incidents do not always get the recognition deserved.

In November we saw the NR mobilisation to floods in South Yorkshire, which mirrored – to an extent – our mobilisation to Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire and to Lincolnshire in the summer. This, coupled with our response to the high number of wildfires this year, demonstrates the skills fire and rescue services have. The incidents clearly demonstrate the professionalism of the NFCC national resilience arrangements.

We have also seen the results of all HMICFRS inspection of fire and rescue services and we are waiting for the first State of Fire report which looks likely to be released in the New Year; I will reflect in detail on these at a later date. A key emerging theme has been the reduction in protection work since 2010. I have written to HMICFRS to identify this long-term under investment and I will continue to raise this with government.

Recent Home Office fire statistics show a 14 per cent increase in fires and a six per cent increase in fatalities over the past 12 months; join all these together and the golden thread running throughout is how we need to ensure fire and rescue services are resourced to meet the challenges we face.

It is essential I continue to raise this need and influence for change, while ensuring NFCC is carrying out practical work which benefits all services and frees up colleagues’ time to work on future proofing the Service as a whole. The ‘do it once’ approach NFCC works to is proving successful; we will continue this across our programmes and committees.

One area I would like to highlight is the recent workforce statistics. These show for the first time the increase in the number of female firefighters working for fire services has not been due to a decrease in the number of male firefighters. While there is still much to do, this is a good indicator that people are starting to see the role of a firefighter as a job for all.

I would, however, like to focus on the Grenfell Phase 1 Inquiry report which is undoubtedly the most significant outcome of 2019. The four-volume report makes for uncomfortable reading at times and it was very upsetting for the families that the report was leaked ahead of the official publication.

Difficult decisions had to be taken on the night, but we will not shy away from the lessons that need to be learned. However, the second phase of the Inquiry will give a much better idea as to why and how the building behaved as it did. I have strongly vocalised that it seems like 20 years’ of building safety failure is being placed at the door of the Fire Service and has led to the vilification of individuals. This is not acceptable, and I will continue to work to challenge this and shine a light on where the system has let us all down.

NFCC is already taking onboard the recommendations of the report and looking at how and where we can make changes on behalf of all fire services, specifically how lessons identified can be turned into lessons learned. We must, however, not lose sight of the condition of the building and how this impacted upon the Fire Service’s response.

It was also concerning that ‘stay put’ was extensively talked about as a Fire Service policy, when this is not the case. It is a building safety strategy, put in place by building owners.

It has been recognised that in some buildings ‘stay put’ is no longer appropriate due to the construction conditions, but it would be irresponsible not to carry out dedicated, funded research to look at suitable and sustainable alternatives. I have written to government requesting this and this has met with a favourable response. Interim fire safety measures for ACM clad buildings were meant to be temporary and it is imperative that these buildings are fully remediated during 2020.

Phase 2 of the Inquiry needs to explore and clearly identify why a cladding system that did not comply with building regulations ended up on the side of Grenfell Tower – along with 100s of others across the country; it must explore why the internal fire safety and compartmentation was so poor, and why the apparent lack of fire competence in the design and build of buildings has reached the state it has.

I gave evidence to a government committee on this very subject and made it clear that we were not satisfied with the pace of change so far. I remain concerned about the ACM cladding systems’ removal and the possibility that we may need emergency powers to enable this to happen.

It is not just high-rise buildings with cladding that is cause for concern; we have a wider broken system which must be addressed. We saw a number of timber-framed building fires this year. These included a care home in Cheshire – housing vulnerable people – which failed on compartmentation and had no sprinklers. There were timber-framed fires at homes in London where fire-stopping measures were missing. Building safety measures and changes must not be treated in isolation; the whole system needs addressing and actions arising from the Hackitt report need to be implemented.

Even more recently the significant student accommodation fire in Bolton showed yet again the broken building safety system. It was met by an excellent response from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue with the support of surrounding services, but we cannot continue to rely on fire and rescue alone reducing the risk in our building stock.

To sum up, it has been an incredibly busy year and I would like to thank all fire and rescue services across the UK for their continued support. As Chair of NFCC I will continue to work on behalf of each service, ensuring we have a national voice and can affect change.