The firework warehouse fire on October 30 2014 at SP Plastics in Stafford tragically resulted in two fatalities, attracting national attention. Following the incident the Service asked East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service if it would conduct a Peer Review. East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service was chosen as the preferred “critical friend” due to its extensive knowledge and understanding with regards to explosives.
Director of Response Rob Barber said: “Here at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service we have a culture of continuous learning and improvement. And although we were satisfied with our involvement at the incident we were conscious that there was development we could take away from it. We could have done an internal debrief, as is standard practice for all incidents we attend, but we felt that this was such a significant incident that we should get an independent perspective.”
“These recommendations have been compiled into an action sheet and the work is now being progressed so that we can ensure we learn, improve and develop from the incident. Areas we will be giving particular focus to include increasing our knowledge about explosives and reinforcing this with specific training and exercising.”
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service spent two days with the Service in November gathering information and it has now produced a report which includes a number of recommendations.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer from East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service Gary Walsh said: “During the Peer Review we were struck by the positive response which demonstrated Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s willingness to seek continuous improvement and its commitment to firefighter safety.
“The involvement of the representative bodies in the review enabled the team to fully explore the application and effectiveness of Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service's policy, procedures, training and assessment in the area of explosive incidents.
“I am confident that the review findings will be acted upon by the Service and that the benefits will provide assurance that the organisation is well equipped to both prevent and respond effectively to incidents of this nature in the future.”
The action sheet will be logged at the Service’s response directorate and reported on a monthly basis to ensure a full audit trail is kept of the progress.
A full Operational Assessment and Peer Challenge conducted in 2013 praised the Service’s “very positive and unique culture” which “drives improvement and change across the organisation and ensures that everyone is engaged.”