International President Roy Bishop chaired the opening session of the IFE Conference today, entitled 'New technologies in the built environment'.

Opening speaker Chief Fire Officer Roy Wilsher, Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, spoke on 'firefighting and rescue in buildings with engineered solutions' and addressed the problems with innovative construction products and techniques. He pointed to one growing area of concern being large timber framed products which have become common in the UK. "Concerns have been raised during the construction phase," he told delegates, "with firefighters reporting extreme radiated heat and rapid fire spread."

With any construction using modern methods of construction he emphasised the importance of ensuring information is shared, that there is appropriate on site expertise, and that changes to the building when in use compromises design and the safety of firefighters. He also stressed the importance of an effective testing regime for building materials to ensure buildings are safe for occupants and firefighters.

Vijith Randeniya, Chief Fire Officer, West Midlands Fire Service, spoke on 'new technology in the workplace', raising the provocative question, "how long will it be before there are completely robotic firefighters?" before addressing current enhanced provisions including COBRA.

However, he cautioned against being seduced by technology, "which can go a step too far". Malfunctioning aerial ladder platforms were singled out as being particularly costly and ineffective. He said it was important to redefine what it is fire services need. The Fire Control project was singled out as another huge cost to the Service, wasting half a billion.

Key moving forward is emphasis on operational training, he said, drawing attention to West Midlands firefighters training four and a quarter hours a day and attending one hundred 15-20 pump exercises a year.


Photo: Chief Fire Officer Roy Wilsher


Posted July 4th, 2012 at 1500 by Andrew. Comment by emailing