Tyne and Wear Firefighters Gene (Clinton) Browne and his son, Curtis, have both been awarded Chief Fire Officer’s Commendations for outstanding contribution above and beyond the call of duty to their community. Gene who has recently retired from the White Watch at Gosforth Community Fire Station after 11 years and his son Curtis, from Gosforth’s Blue Watch, received their commendation (presented by Assistant Chief Fire Officer, John Baines) following a letter from Gateshead Councilor, Julie Simpson and her brother John Simpson. Supporting neighbor in difficult times Gene endeavored to make Mr. Alan Simpson’s final weeks as comfortable and as worry-free as possibleGene and Curtis, as well as Gene’s wife Fiona, helped Julie and John’s father at the end of his life in December 2018. As a close neighbor, Gene discovered Julie and John’s father – Alan Simpson – in his garden looking very unwell and sought immediate medical treatment for him, but sadly he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Gene then endeavored to make Mr. Alan Simpson’s final weeks as comfortable and as worry-free as possible, by providing him with pyjamas and slippers, paying his utility bills and supporting him through some very difficult hours. What’s more, he helped fulfill his last wish – to be reunited with his daughter and son. While he’d had some minimal contact with Julie through a few letters, he hadn’t seen his son for 43 years. Curtis was able to search for Julie online, enabling the hospital to get in touch with the family. Both John and Julie managed to speak to their dad just hours before he died. Respectable and honorable officer His kindness, generosity and exceptional intentions make him a respectable and honorable officer"Councilor Julie Simpson commented: “It goes without saying that Gene is a credit to the fire service. His kindness, generosity and exceptional intentions make him a respectable and honorable officer. His willingness and honesty to help others at a time of need and selfless determination and attitude is and remains truly remarkable. “I and my brother are totally indebted to Gene and his family for providing us with opportunity to say our last few words to our dad before he died. If Gene hadn’t helped to make this happen, I know that we would have lived to regret not being able to say our final goodbyes to him.” Along with Gene, his son Curtis also supported Mr. Alan Simpson’s last wishes and read the eulogy at the thanksgiving for his life. His exceptional support for the family also received a much deserved commendation. Demonstrating leadership behaviors Gene and Curtis demonstrated exemplary leadership behaviors, those which are displayed through our firefighters"Assistant Chief Fire Officer, John Baines commented: “Our firefighters are trained to protect our communities. From preventing incidents through safety visits in homes and businesses through to responding to all levels of emergencies, using their professionalism and expertise to protect and save lives; every day, they do that. “But what Gene, Curtis and Fiona did in supporting the Simpson family at such a difficult time, is incredibly humbling for anyone of us to hear. Gene and Curtis demonstrated exemplary leadership behaviors, those which are displayed through our firefighters. I cannot commend them enough for the remarkable support they gave to the family. Our community should be very proud that we have firefighters and families like the Browne’s, whose care and compassion for others is a meaningful and positive example to us all.” As well as the Chief Fire Officer’s Commendation, Gene was also presented with his 30 year-long service certificate on the occasion of his retirement.
County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service (CDDFRS), Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) have joined forces to launch FireStoppers – a new way for North East communities to provide anonymous information on deliberate fires. All three Services have been significantly affected by deliberate fires: CDDFRS – 2695 deliberate fires (figures for the year ending December 2018) NFRS – has seen a 21.5% increase to 265 deliberate fires (first quarter 2019 compared to 2018) TWFRS – 5722 deliberate fires – an annual increase of 2% (figures for April 2018 – March 2019) Reporting deliberate fires via telephone line FireStoppers allows people who have information on deliberate fires to report them via a telephone lineWhile it is clear that all three Services have to manage different levels of deliberate fires, these are fires that shouldn’t be happening in the first place and are placing additional stress on emergency services. Worryingly the region is twice the national average for deliberate primary fires (more serious fires that harm people or cause damage to property) and 3.5 times the national rate for secondary fires (small outdoor fires, not involving people or property.) FireStoppers allows people who have information on deliberate fires to report them via a telephone line or an online form, without having to provide their name or other contact details. It is being managed by the independent charity CrimeStoppers, who after receiving an anonymous call or completed online form, will create a report that brings together all the information, removing any identifiable details of the person who has contacted them. The report is then sent to the appropriate police force. Reduction in arson and deliberate fires CDDFRS Chief Fire Officer Stuart Errington said: “Following the introduction of the dedicated FireStoppers telephone number in the Easington area, last year, I was pleased to see a reduction in the cases of arson and deliberate fires, which had been increasing in that area over recent years. The FireStoppers telephone line allows the local community being affected by fires to report information and remain completely anonymous. This is a fantastic opportunity for local people to help prevent arson and deliberate fires from damaging local community" “I am very proud that County Durham and Darlington FRS was the UK’s first fire and rescue service to use this initiative and that we are now working with our fire and rescue partners in Tyne and Wear and Northumberland to expand FireStoppers across the region. “I would like to encourage everyone with information relating to a deliberate fire to call FireStoppers and report it, with the confidence that they will remain completely anonymous. This is a fantastic opportunity for local people to help prevent arson and deliberate fires from damaging their local community.” Providing intelligence to identify perpetrators Historically, few people have come forward with information on deliberate fire setting and arson within their communities. It is hoped that with the introduction of FireStoppers, local residents will be able to provide valuable intelligence that will help to identify the perpetrators and act as a deterrent. NFRS Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Mark McCarty said: “The new FireStoppers program gives people the power to speak up anonymously and help reduce the amount of deliberate fires within our area. Our crews spend a lot of time dealing with arson attacks when our time could be better spent elsewhere"“Our crews spend a lot of time dealing with arson attacks when our time could be better spent elsewhere. Deliberate fires affect all of our communities, this new initiative will no doubt help reduce the impact and let us focus on our prevention and protection work across the county.” Life-Risks due to deliberate fires Deliberate fires are not only a blight to the local environment and economy, they also present life-risks to those setting the fires and anyone in the vicinity of the fire. There are countless examples of community areas that can no longer be accessed or have been temporarily put out of use because they have been the focus of a deliberate fire. TWFRS Assistant Chief Fire Officer, John Baines commented: “By collaborating with our two neighbouring fire and rescue services, we are committed to work together to tackle deliberate fires – a problem that is affecting local communities and our local economy and placing undue pressure on fire service resources. “Whether it is wheelie bins being set on fire, or cars being burned out – deliberate fires scar our local environment and present risks to life and health. I believe that FireStoppers will give local residents an effective channel to provide information on deliberate fires which will have a positive impact on reducing their occurrence.”
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) is supporting the position of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) in urging the UK Government to change its stance on sprinklers. In particular it is asking for sprinklers: to become a requirement in all new high-rise residential structures to be retro-fitted in buildings more than 30 metres tall when they are refurbished should be retro-fitted in high-rise residential buildings over 30 metres with a single staircase, regardless of refurbishment plans should be provided in new residential care premises and specialized housing Minimizes the impact of fire on businesses Sprinklers save lives, reduce injuries, protect property and minimize the impact of fire on businesses"At TWFRS’ Sprinkler Seminar, during National Sprinkler Safety Week, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, John Baines said: “The research conducted by the NFCC confirms just how important sprinklers can be, within the range of fire safety solutions for new and existing buildings. “Sprinklers save lives, reduce injuries, protect property and minimize the impact of fire on businesses. They also help to protect firefighters and reduce the impact of fires on the environment. We believe that this compelling evidence deserves a positive government response.” Key experts across the field of sprinklers This week, TWFRS welcomed to its headquarters in Barmston, Washington, a number of key national experts across the field of sprinklers. This included Terry McDermott, CFO Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service and the NFCC Lead for Automatic Water Suppression Systems, who gave the audience an overview of the recent research on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Sprinkler Systems in the United Kingdom; Ian Gough, from the sprinkler trade association BAFSA, who presented on sprinklers in schools and Nick McCormack from Merseyside FRS who described a challenging car park fire. The seminar also included, housing provider Gentoo and South Tyneside Housing who shared with the audience their own sprinkler journey and demonstrations on sprinkler effectiveness. Protecting lives, homes and businesses As a service we promote the installation of sprinklers and Automatic Suppression Systems in homes"John concluded: “As a service we actively promote the installation of sprinklers and Automatic Suppression Systems in homes and businesses. Sprinklers already play a major role in protecting lives, homes and businesses and we would very much welcome the UK Government following the lead from Scotland and Wales, and by doing so providing greater protection particularly to those in our vulnerable communities, who need it the most.” At the seminar, TWFRS also launched an updated version of their sprinklers booklet, with key information for residents and businesses.