Regional Roundup September 2021

New appliances help firefighters to reach new heights

New state-of-the-art firefighting appliances are helping firefighters in Greater Manchester to reach new heights and tackle a range of challenging incidents

Over the past 18 months, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) has invested more than £2.5 million in four new turn table ladder (TTL) appliances. With a ladder reach ranging between 32 m and 42 m, they are among the highest articulated ladder appliances in use by UK fire and rescue services.

In recent years GMFRS has been working to replace its appliances with new vehicles to ensure it is in the best position possible to tackle a range of incidents and keep people safe.

These new specialist appliances have replaced older aerial appliances and have been delivered to Manchester Central, Stretford, Whitehill and Bolton Central stations. Three of the four assets are already being used to respond to incidents in Greater Manchester. The final appliance at Bolton Central will commence shortly once training is completed.

The TTL appliances have a range of uses at a variety of incidents, including tackling fires involving high-rise buildings, allowing firefighters to tackle a fire from above or act as a vantage point for firefighters using handheld jets. They can also be used while working with technical response units and pump crews to recover casualties from hard-to-reach places or lower or raise casualties safely.

The appliances have already helped combat a number of incidents, some recent examples include:

Large Building Fire Royton – May 16, 2021

Firefighters were called to a large fire involving an abandoned recycling building, measuring approximately 60 m by 30 m, that contained a large quantity of compressed mixed waste. Bales of recycling materials outside the building were also on fire.

The crews used hose reels and jets, along with a TTL to tackle the blaze from above. It was then used to assist firefighters to cut holes at the side of the building from above to extinguish pockets of fires inside. The TTL enables firefighters to reach further into the affected area to tackle the blaze more effectively.

Large Building Fire Hyde – April 4, 2020

Fifteen fire engines were called to tackle the incident which measured about 300 m by 200 m.

The fire involved a range of buildings across the site, some of which were three storeys tall, and the roofs of several were well alight.

Three TTLs were deployed to fight fire from above. Some of them were then used to bridge onto an adjoining building’s roof to provide safe access and a riser for handheld jets to extinguish deep seated hotspots.

Commercial Building Fire Chinatown – February 28, 2021

Greater Manchester FRS deployed six fire engines and an incident command unit to the scene to combat a fire in the basement kitchen ducting system in a restaurant. A TTL was used as an access to the roof and to direct a water jet into ventilation outlets.

Assistant County Fire Officer Dave Keelan said: “Public safety is our number one priority and these new TTL appliances have already been put to great use by our firefighters to tackle incidents quickly, efficiently and safely.

“GMFRS will continue to invest in our frontline services to ensure our firefighters are equipped with the latest technology and equipment to deliver the most effective response possible. Incidents such as the ones highlighted show already why this investment has been so important, allowing us to tackle these fires and keep people safe.”

Area Manager Jon Aspinall added: “We want to ensure GMFRS is at the forefront of the latest firefighting and rescue technology and these TTLs are just the latest way we are doing this. We will continue to demonstrate the focus of our ongoing investment into the communities of Greater Manchester.”



Mammoth ride to raise vital charity cash

Suffolk and South Yorkshire firefighters are joining together in a bid to cycle the length of the UK to raise mental health awareness and thousands for charity

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue’s Mark Peart and Paul Simmonite are joining firefighting colleagues from Suffolk for the ten-day, 1,000-mile ride from Lands End to John O’Groats in September.

The team are aiming to raise £50,000 for The Fire Fighters Charity, which supports the mental, physical and social needs of all serving and retired members of the UK’s fire family.

Paul has been a firefighter for 29 years and is currently based at Aston Park fire station. He said: “I’ve worked at stations across South Yorkshire and seen things that most people will thankfully never see, but due to the nature of the family feel of the fire and rescue service there has always been support available to me.

“I know The Fire Fighters Charity provides lots of mental health support though, so raising for them was something I really wanted to do.

“After meeting up and spending a day cycling with the group from Suffolk, I was honoured and privileged when they contacted me and asked me to join the team on this epic adventure. It’s been on my bucket list for years to ride the length of the UK, so I jumped at the chance.

“To be able to challenge myself with the mental and physical aspects of this adventure and knowing others will benefit from the team’s efforts is really inspiring.”

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Fire Officer Chris Kirby said: “Mark and Paul have the support of the whole fire service behind them. Not only are they raising money for a charity which does so much for serving and retired fire service staff and their families, they are also raising much needed awareness of the mental health issues which many emergency service workers face.

“I’ll be joining the team for part of the ride – but the scale of the full challenge is absolutely enormous and I’d encourage people to dig deep and donate to help inspire them to complete this incredible feat.”

The team begin their mammoth ride on September 20, stopping at eight fire stations across the UK along the way.

To donate, visit:



Keeping adults away from arson

Adult arsonists across Cleveland are being targeted in a pioneering scheme aimed at reducing nuisance fires across the region

Details of the highly successful programme, known as Fire-P, were highlighted at a special training session hosted by Cleveland Fire Brigade at the end of last month.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has already had nearly 200 convicted firesetters on the scheme (a recognised alternative to sentencing) and not one has re-offended.

Fire-P (Firesettters Integrated Responsive Educational Programme) looks at motives, human behaviour and coping mechanisms and other aspects of forensic psychology in getting those convicted diverted away from arson. The aim of the session attended by Cleveland Fire Brigade and neighbouring fire and rescue services, is to have staff trained to deliver the Fire-P programme.

Some 85 per cent of Cleveland fire calls are related to deliberate fires – the highest in the country – and divert resources away from other emergencies where lives may be at risk. In the first six months of this year there were nearly 2,200 deliberate fires, costing the local economy nearly £13 million.

Serial arsonist Stefan Geary, 50, Furness Street, Hartlepool, was recently given an extra four month prison sentence after setting fire to St George’s Church Hall, South Bank, Middlesbrough, causing an estimated £150,000 damage.

Craig Strike, Head of Prevention, Protection and Engagement at Cleveland Fire Brigade said: “The Fire-P programme could potentially provide an alternative to sentencing that supports offenders to change their behaviour and in the process ensures the brigade’s valuable resources can be focused in other areas rather than dealing with deliberate fires. This is a great addition to our prevention portfolio.”

The brigade already regularly runs courses to educate young people and their families who have had issues with fire setting to help them better understand the dangers of fire and support them to change their behaviour.

The sessions at Cleveland Fire Brigade’s Training and Admin Hub in Hartlepool were secured following close working between Cleveland and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service. They were delivered by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service in conjunction with the University of Portsmouth. Staff from Northumberland, Durham and Darlington and Tyne and Wear Brigades also attended.



Mid and West Wales issues Welsh language update

Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service reports on publishing its Welsh Language Standards Annual Report for April 2020 to March 2021

The Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 sets out a legal framework that imposes a duty on Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Authority, among other public bodies in Wales, to comply with a set of standards relating to the Welsh language.

Councillor Elwyn Williams, Chair of Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Authority recognises and values the rich diversity of our communities and the significance of our cultural heritage. As such, we are committed to ensuring that in conducting public business in Wales, the Welsh and English languages are treated on the basis of equality.

“As an authority, we have responded positively to the Welsh Language Standards, utilising the standards to further progress our commitment and aspiration to provide services equitably to all areas of mid and west Wales.

“We also acknowledge our duty towards our own staff, most of whom are residents of mid and west Wales and who themselves reflect the linguistic and cultural make-up of their own communities.

“Over the last 12 months, in the face of the challenges and restrictions imposed by the Coronavirus pandemic, it is extremely pleasing to note that we have continued to ensure that our staff and communities have access to our services in their language of need and choice.

“Over the next 12 months we will continue to look for opportunities to further collaborate with our partners and other fire and rescue services across Wales to promote, encourage and support the wider use of the Welsh language in our workplaces to meet individual language need and to provide a real language choice for our communities.”

Chief Fire Officer Chris Davies, said: “At Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, we believe that in the conduct of public business in Wales, the Welsh and English languages should be treated on the basis of equality. We take great pride in providing the highest level of commitment to the Welsh language, ensuring bilingual services and language choice for both our staff and our communities.

“This annual report outlines the steps we have taken over the last 12 months to meet and maintain our compliance with our Welsh Language Standards. It provides details on the progress made in key service areas and notable achievements which will improve our capacity to deliver our services bilingually. However, it also recognises that while good progress has been made, there is more work to be done to ensure we recognise language need and provide real language choice to both our communities and our staff. We have therefore already identified key actions within this report which we will prioritise as key focus areas for improvement over the next 12 months.

“These key areas will continue to focus on the work we have commenced this year to enhance the bilingual capacity of our service. We want to ensure we have the optimum numbers of bilingual staff in key areas that reflect the language profile of our communities. We therefore remain committed to promoting bilingual workplaces and creating a positive environment for our staff and our communities to engage with us both formally and informally through the medium of Welsh.”



New Chief Officer for Suffolk

The Assistant Chief Fire Officer of West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is to leave the post in the autumn to take up his new role as Suffolk Chief

Jon Lacey has been appointed as Chief Fire Officer and Executive Director for Public Safety of Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service.

Jon began his firefighting career with West Sussex in 1993 as a retained firefighter. He leaves the service after working his way up through the ranks to be appointed as the service’s Assistant Chief Fire Officer in 2020.

He said: “I have served most of my career with West Sussex and I have had the opportunity of working with some fantastic people over the last two and a half decades. It is those experiences I will be taking with me as I leave the county. It has been an honour to serve the people of West Sussex.”

Jon also spent five years with Essex Fire and Rescue Service.

As the Assistant Chief Fire Officer in West Sussex he has had responsibility for the service’s Prevention, Protection and Response teams as well as the county council’s Resilience and Emergency Team. He is also the National Fire Chiefs Council national lead for air transportation and outside of work is a keen instructor for the Air Cadets.

West Sussex FRS Chief Fire Officer, Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, said: “This is fantastic news for Jon and I am sure I speak for everyone when I offer him my congratulations and say how delighted we are for him. Jon will be a huge loss to the service as he has such a wealth of experience gained over 24 years in the Fire and Rescue Service, the majority with us here in West Sussex. I wish him every success in his new role.”

West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Community Support and Fire and Rescue, Duncan Crow, said: “Jon has dedicated much of his career to keeping the residents of West Sussex safe, and has been a tremendous asset to our fire and rescue service. I know I speak for everyone here at the county council in wishing him all the best.”



Cornwall goes green in drive to become carbon neutral

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service will introduce electric and low carbon fuel vehicles into its fleet to help reduce its carbon footprint whilst continuing to provide vital services to Cornwall’s residents

The first four new electric vehicles have been introduced into service and allocated to fire safety protection officers. The service, like the rest of Cornwall Council, is committed to being carbon neutral by 2030.

Chief Fire Officer Kathryn Billing said: “Leading the way and contributing to meeting our carbon targets is essential. We have one of the largest fleets of vehicles in Cornwall Council and the service is committed to meeting our carbon reduction targets.

“We have looked at how we use our vehicles to understand more about the emissions being released into the environment, this enables us to prioritise which vehicles can be replaced.

“As a result, a number of our light vehicles in our support fleet will be replaced with comparable electric powered alternatives.”

Martyn Alvey, Cornwall Council Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Environment and Climate Change, said: “These new electric vehicles are being introduced as part of Cornwall Council’s response to the climate emergency and our commitment to become a carbon neutral council by 2030.

“Cornwall’s Fire and Rescue Service is leading the way by beginning the transition to electric vehicles working with the Council’s Carbon Neutral Cornwall programme. These cars mark the beginning of our transition to a zero-emission fleet and will help Cornwall realise our ambition to become the UK’s first net-zero region.”

First to be replaced are ageing diesel vans, which will be replaced by electric cars that have a 200-mile range, zero emissions and are low maintenance. The service has also installed charging infrastructure at its headquarters in Tolvaddon and at Bodmin Community Fire Station to support the shift to electric vehicles.

Kathryn added: “We have made a positive start to becoming carbon neutral but there is more to be done. We are currently at an exciting stage where a further six light vehicles have been identified as suitable for our needs. Work is also underway to identify a medium-sized electric van that will be used by the services maintenance team.

“To support the shift to electric vehicles, more vehicle charging points are being proposed at ten of our community fires stations spanning the length and breadth of our Duchy.”



Firefighters turn ambulance drivers to support NHS

Avon Fire and Rescue Service report on committing more than 12,000 hours to the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust since the height of the pandemic to support emergency service colleagues and ultimately, save lives

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) continues experiencing unprecedented high level demand and its colleagues are working incredibly hard with healthcare partners and other agencies including the region’s fire services to manage this significant challenge.

As a service, Avon Fire and Rescue Service (AF&RS) recognise the challenges and continue to proactively support SWASFT with ten firefighters on a full-time basis and four on a part-time as part of a wider response to assist our ambulance service colleagues and continue caring for our communities.

As a service we are proud of our commitment to SWASFT and continue to support the NHS with volunteer vaccinators and marshals at vaccination centres to help alleviate their pressures. We are dedicated to keeping our communities safe and supporting our emergency service colleagues where possible.

Derek McCullough, SWASFT EPRR Manager, who was responsible for setting up this scheme for firefighters to crew and drive ambulances, said: “Our service has experienced a substantial increase in demand during recent months, placing significant pressures on our resources. In order to continue delivering effective and responsive patient care, we have been working with various partners and agencies to manage this challenge.

“We are extremely grateful for the invaluable support we’ve received during the pandemic from the five fire and rescue services in our region.

“Avon Fire and Rescue Service has significantly contributed towards ensuring our services to patients are maintained, and we are thankful for the continued assistance their firefighters and support staff provide to us.”



New fire service museum for Greater Manchester

Greater Manchester’s firefighting story is being vividly told in a new museum opened last month in Rochdale

FIREGROUND is the new name for the former Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum, which has been closed for redevelopment since March 2020.

Based in Rochdale’s magnificent, art deco inspired former fire station, the new museum is more than four times the size of its predecessor, which has operated in an old workshop building since 1983.

The term FIREGROUND has been used in the service since World War II to refer to the scene of operations at an emergency incident, similar to battleground in the armed forces. It means the centre of activity and the new FIREGROUND Museum – packed with fascinating displays, stories and features – is exactly that.

Managed entirely by volunteers – many ex-firefighters themselves – the collection boasts over 20 engines (dating from 1741 to the present day), along with uniforms, equipment, medals, paintings and models.

Together these tell the story of firefighting from the Great Fire of London in 1666 to modern times. Curator and retired fire officer, Bob Bonner, said: “The new museum tells the proud story of the men and women who have served Greater Manchester since the 1700s, the significant incidents they attended, the equipment they used and the sacrifices they made.”

As well as the original “appliance room” with six full-size fire engines lined up, many objects are displayed in a re-created Victorian street complete with houses, shops, police station and a fire station with two smart grey horses and a steam engine.

“Pump Street and its Blitz equivalent, Cranberry Street, allow us to display historic items such as fire alarms, signs and hydrants in their natural setting. Visitors can completely immerse themselves in the period displays,” said Bob.

The Museum also commemorates the major contribution made by the many local firms who produced hose, ladders, sprinklers, extinguishers and even complete fire engines. “Greater Manchester’s fire engineering companies once supplied the rest of the world,” added Bob.

Hi-tech interactive displays for all ages, a fully-equipped education suite and a comprehensive research facility complete the offering.

The development of FIREGROUND has been made possible by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and other generous donors, in partnership with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, Rochdale Borough Council and Rochdale Development Agency.



Going for green: how electric vehicles will help Hampshire FRS save the planet

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service reports on electric vehicle charging points being installed at all fire stations as part of its drive to be carbon neutral by 2050

Charging points will be installed at key sites – including our Eastleigh headquarters and strategic fire stations across both counties – by 2023. The move will pave the way for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service’s (HIWFRS) fleet of non-operational light vehicles to be electrified, improving air quality across our communities and reducing our carbon emissions.

The scheme is part of a bold and ambitious plan announced by HIWFRS to meet the UK’s net zero target and build on carbon reduction work already carried out. All 61 of our fire stations, plus our headquarters, will also be surveyed to identify environmentally friendly improvements that can be made, such as insulation and heating upgrades.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Authority (HIWFRA) approved the Carbon Reduction Pathway and the £1.1 million needed to fund the package of work at its meeting at the end of July.

Chairman of HIWFRA, Councillor Rhydian Vaughan, said: “We all have a responsibility to play our part in reducing harmful carbon emissions. These plans will allow our fire and rescue service to set the wheels in motion as it carries on the vital work needed to drive down its carbon footprint.”

The Carbon Reduction Pathway builds on the success of a series of previous carbon reduction initiatives, such as the 2012 Carbon Management Programme, which achieved a 30 per cent reduction in carbon emissions. A study carried out by the Carbon Trust showed that 57 per cent of our carbon emissions are from our estate, with most of our buildings now more than 50 years old. The remaining 43 per cent of our carbon footprint is from the vehicle fleet, with the installation of electric vehicle charging points providing an opportunity to begin the electrification of our non-operational light vehicles. The service already has four electric vehicles for staff use.

Money will also be invested in upgrades to the Fleet Maintenance Centre to ensure that the team have the skills and specialist tools needed to maintain an increasing electric fleet.

Chief Fire Officer Neil Odin said: “It is vital that we invest now in our carbon reduction strategy if we are to meet the government’s target of reaching net zero by 2050. This is an important first step and a really significant opportunity to make a difference that will benefit our colleagues and the communities we serve both now and in the future.”

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