West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) has been graded as ‘Good’ in a report published on 20th June by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS). This is the first report completed by HMICFRS into WMFS since the inspection program recommenced in 2018 after a break of several years, during which time WMFS has seen significant government funding reductions. Safety and rescue report The inspectorate has commented that they are ‘very pleased with the performance of West Midlands Fire Service Overall the inspectorate has commented that they are ‘very pleased with the performance of West Midlands Fire Service in keeping people safe and secure, and in particular with its effectiveness’. This has been made possible through the commitment of the staff in supporting the organization to evolve so as to maintain or improve vital services to the community. The fire service further said that they hoped people across the West Midlands take confidence from the way in which they respond to incidents and reduce risk and vulnerability within the community. West Midlands Fire Service achieves ‘outstanding’ rating WMFS is the only fire and rescue service, out of 30 assessed in two rounds of inspections to date, to receive the top ‘outstanding’ rating for its emergency response work. Their response work contributes to the fire service’s overall rating of ‘good’ for effectiveness, efficiency and staff management. Phil Loach, West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) Chief Fire Officer, said “We know, from our previous consultations, that the public expect and value a gold standard emergency response service. I’m delighted by the report’s recognition of the hard work, dedication and professionalism of staff in providing exactly that”. Effective and quick emergency response Phil adds, “We get to our most life-threatening emergencies in an average of 4 minutes and 43 seconds. This is made possible by our Service Delivery Model, which enables us to deliver assertive, effective and safe emergency response.” The report adds that WMFS “has developed a comprehensive understanding of risk” which helps us plan the use of our resources effectively to deliver response, prevention and protection services”. Prevention and protection activities Our staff and communities should be reassured that there are many areas for celebration" CFO Loach added “Because we understand risk and how to manage it through prevention and protection activities, we can use our different shift systems and different vehicles with differently sized crews to be in the community working to reduce risk and vulnerability. This work is done by the same frontline firefighters who respond to 999 calls and is targeted at the West Midlands’ most vulnerable people and premises”. “We welcome the report from HMICFRS and our staff and communities should be reassured that there are many areas for celebration. As an organization we are always looking for ways to improve and there are areas within the report which recommend areas for focus. We will use the information in the report as part of the evidence to support ongoing development. As an organization we aim to continue to deliver a first-class service to make our communities safer, stronger and healthier.” Incident management Cllr John Edwards, Chair of the West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority commented, “I’m very pleased with the outcome of this national inspection. Across the measures of effectiveness, efficiency and people West Midlands Fire Service has been found to have an overall grading of ‘good’, and on the vital issue of responding to incidents we have been ranked as ‘outstanding’.” He adds, “Our average response time to life-threatening incidents is validated at 4 minutes 43 seconds, probably the fastest in the UK. Given the unprecedented level of government funding reductions totaling £38 million since 2011 this performance is remarkable. My thanks go to every member of staff at WMFS who have contributed to this achievement. It underlines the success of the strategy that has been implemented over many years.”
Coventry’s new community fire station will be officially opened this weekend – and it’s throwing open its doors to the public! Following an opening ceremony for invited guests, the Radford Road site will be staging a road safety awareness day from 12 noon until 4 pm on Sunday (2 June), to coincide with the city’s two-day MotoFest. Visitors will be able to tour the new fire station and watch firefighters giving demonstrations of how they rescue people from car crashes and give first aid. Advice will also be available on the safe fitting of child car seats. Business Fire Safety Work Its replacement gives the city’s firefighters a modern base at the heart of the community" There’ll be a visit from WMFS fire investigation dog and their fire motorbike will also be on display. Would-be firefighters aged 16 and over can attend a pre-recruitment talk at 1pm. Entertainment will be provided by WMFS’ very own wind band and choir. Chief Fire Officer Phil Loach said: “The evidence from our Integrated Risk Management Plan and Community Safety Strategy reaffirmed that the existing site was optimum for achieving our risk-based, five-minute response time. That response standard is at the heart of the new station’s design. We know from our studies of reaction times that seconds do count, so the functional and most-used spaces are nearest to the engine house.” “The previous station was four decades old. Its replacement gives the city’s firefighters a modern base at the heart of the community. From it they carry out extensive community and business fire safety work, focusing on vulnerable people and premises most in need of their skills and expert knowledge.” Valuable Community Asset We’re proud of the role that all of our stations play in their communities"Councillor John Edwards, Chair of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “We’re proud of the role that all of our stations play in their communities, and I’m sure that Coventry’s new one will be no exception. I’m confident that everyone who visits on Sunday will see it as a valuable community asset.” The city station’s firefighters relocated while their old base was replaced with West Midlands Fire Service’s (WMFS) newest build. Operational since December, the Radford Road project was designed by Bond Bryan Architects and built by Wilmot Dixon. Dedicated Space For Community Richard Stanton, Group Commander for Coventry and Solihull, said: “We’re very proud of our new station. It’s a fantastic community facility and we’re really looking forward to welcoming visitors on Sunday. The station includes a large, dedicated space for community use which is complemented by another area currently being used by a partner organization. The gym facilities will also be available for initiatives with health agencies.” And the turnout system incorporated into the design is the first of its kind at WMFS “Our fire cadets used to be limited to a standalone area of the old station, but a great advantage of the new one is that they’re now integrated with our operational crews. Sunday will also be the perfect opportunity to celebrate the cadets’ 30th anniversary.” And the turnout system incorporated into the design is the first of its kind at WMFS. Pre-Existing Fire House “The technology alerts crews to the incident type and location, plus who’s going, all as they’re heading to the vehicles,” added G/Cmdr Stanton. “Reaction times are already showing significant improvements. We’re now looking at displaying their initial route on screens by the engine bay doors, which they’ll see as they mobilize.” When they return from an incident, firefighters enter a ‘dirty’ kit cleaning and drying area before a ‘clean’ zone where they get fresh kit before reaching the station’s office areas. An innovative kit heating system allows kit to be dried faster and to be ready for operational use much quicker than traditional drying rooms. Improvements to the station’s pre-existing fire house should be completed by Spring 2020, ensuring it meets the training needs of a 21st Century fire and rescue service.
A team of West Midlands Fire Service firefighters have been crowned national champs in the use of breathing apparatus. Top honors went to Hay Mills Blue Watch at the 2018 National BA Challenge at the Fire Service College in Gloucestershire. Colleagues from Highgate Blue Watch also achieved fourth place overall, in a total field of 28. The event attracted teams of five firefighters from across the UK. Each was faced with the scenario of a property fire in which people were believed trapped. They had 30 minutes to tackle the fire and rescue any casualties. Phil Loach, West Midlands Fire Service Chief Fire Officer, said: “I‘d like to congratulate all involved on such a fantastic achievement. Through regular training and simulations, our crews ensure they are fully prepared to respond to any scenario to keep their communities safe. These results highlight their ongoing commitment to operational excellence.” fire and rescue services Highgate Community Fire Station came second in the BA Team category, represented by Ian Wroe and Mark Cope Councillor John Edwards, Chair of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority, added: “Many congratulations to our Hay Mills firefighter team who scooped this award. These are the skills that keep our West Midlands communities safe around the clock, every day of the year.” The event, sponsored by Draeger UK and The Fire Fighters Charity, promotes best practice and firefighter safety in the disciplines of incident command, procedures at the scene of a fire, entry control and the wearing of BA. Teams were scrutinized by specialist national assessors from the UK fire and rescue services, with Hay Mills Blue Watch achieving: Best BA team: Terry Falaschi and Steve Gibson Best Entry Control Officer: Sue Clarke Best Fire Ground Officer: Jason Plant Officer in charge, 3rd place: James Davis Firefighters from Highgate Community Fire Station in Birmingham also came second in the BA Team category, represented by Ian Wroe and Mark Cope.
WMFS teams celebrated strong performances in this year’s national rescue challenges. Hosted in Cardiff Bay by South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, firefighters from across the country took part in the UK Rescue Organisation (UKRO) event. The two-day showcase saw dozens of teams competing in extrication, trauma, rope, water and urban search and rescue (USAR) events. Members of our Technical Rescue Unit came second overall in the rope rescue challenge. Honing The Skills Of Firefighters There were also notable performances from Northfield Blue and Highgate Green watches in extrication. Two of our teams also made the top 10 of the trauma challenge, while a WMFS medic achieved 4th place. Crew Commander Sacha Quinney, one of WMFS' Emergency Response Trainers, said: “I’d like to say a huge thank you to all of our teams and support staff for their hard work and dedication. They give up a lot of their own time to practise.” “These events are a great way of honing the skills our firefighters might use at any time and place in the West Midlands.” Councillor John Edwards, Chair of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “Such challenges help our firefighters to deliver the best possible service to our communities. They build upon the training that all of our crews receive, boosting their confidence and helping them to develop as professionals.”
The West Midlands Fire Service has announced that the service’s firefighters have won the Emergency Services category in the annual ‘Pride of Britain’ awards! WMFS firefighters recognized The accolade, sponsored by ITV’s ‘This Morning’ program, recognizes the response of firefighters from Highgate Community Fire Station and the Technical Rescue Unit to a road traffic collision in which a driver was fully impaled on a metal railing. Some of WMFS firefighters who rescued Phil attended his wedding. The incident was an example of why emergency response by firefighters continues to have a life-changing impact ‘Pride of Britain’ winner Phil Loach, West Midlands Fire Service Chief Fire Officer, said “It is an honor to receive the award from the ‘This Morning’ program. This was an exceptional response by our own crews and of all the agencies involved. To have our firefighters recognized as the ‘Pride of Britain’ is very humbling. The incident was an exceptional example of why emergency response by firefighters and other ‘blue light’ services continues to have a life-changing impact. Phil further said, “Our crews train regularly with our police and ambulance colleagues, plus other organizations, to provide a response to emergencies that makes a very real difference, whatever challenges come their way. This incident was a first for many of those involved. They drew on their training and professionalism to achieve the best possible outcome for Mr. Ewins. We were delighted he made such a speedy recovery.” Effective emergency rescue response Councilor John Edwards, Chair of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority, added “I am delighted that our crews have been recognized by Pride of Britain. This goes to show our firefighters wide range of fantastic skills which saved this man’s life”. Representatives of the 15 firefighters who responded to the incident will attend the awards evening on Monday, 29 Oct 2018. It will be televised on ITV at 8pm on Tuesday, 6 November 2018. Helmet cameras Phil Ewins, the driver involved in the near-fatal crash, described the emergency services’ response as ‘world class’. The accident featured in ‘Into the Fire’ – West Midlands Fire Service’s very own TV show that broadcasts on Really channel. The breath-taking action was caught on helmet cameras worn by the WMFS crews for the show. A three-meter metal railing had gone into his chest and out of his back, pinning him to his car seat. Phil, from Liverpool, had been on his way to spend a very special weekend with his girlfriend, Dikla. He’d secretly planned a marriage proposal treasure hunt, starting at her home in Shirley and ending at the restaurant in Liverpool where they had their first date. But his crash put the plans on hold. Hospital doctors put him in an induced coma and he had two operations. Amazingly, just three weeks later, he was discharged. Saving lives with quick and effective rescue service Arrival of WMFS's Technical Rescue Unit with their specialist equipment meant that Phil was successfully cut free Phil can recall the crash in detail. “I remember the doctor arriving at the scene and the car being dismantled around me,” he said. “I listened to the team talking through the options for cutting the bar – and remember really not liking the idea of them using cutters that might twist it.” However, the arrival of WMFS's Technical Rescue Unit with their specialist equipment meant that Phil was successfully cut free – then taken to hospital with a section of the railing still passing through him. Emergency and rescue services honors Phil further said, “I know they look back proudly on how they handled such a complex case in a textbook way. They were amazing – so professional, calm, well-drilled and thorough. All of the emergency services worked together seamlessly.” In July, some of the firefighters who responded to Phil’s crash were invited to celebrate his marriage to Dr Dikla Arad, who works as a vet. “Having them at the wedding was one of the highlights of the day. They’re our friends now,” Phil added.
Members of our staff who have completed 20 years’ exemplary service were honored at a ceremony at our headquarters. Uniformed and non-uniformed staff were presented with Long Service and Conduct Medals and awards by Dr Beverly Lindsay, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands and Phil Hales, our Deputy Chief Fire Officer. DCFO Hales said: “Completing 20 years’ loyal and devoted service is a great achievement in the careers of our firefighters and support staff. The ceremony is also intended to honor the recipients’ family and friends for their outstanding support.” remarkable contribution Councillor John Edwards, Chair of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority, added: “The event marks a remarkable contribution by women and men from all parts of the organization. My thanks can hardly reflect my gratitude for all they have done.” Recipients who attended the event: Firefighter Colin Butler, Solihull Red Watch Crew Commander Michael Cahill, Sheldon Green Watch Firefighter John Evans, Fallings Park Green Watch Watch Commander Phil Dolphin, Organizational Intelligence Team, HQ Adrian Scoyne, Principal Infrastructure Engineer, ICT, HQ Watch Commander Andrew Wagner, Tettenhall Purple Watch Crew Commander Scott Weldon, West Bromwich White Watch Crew Commander Paul Bainbridge, Wolverhampton Blue Watch Watch Commander Jason Boyd, Oldbury Orange Watch Crew Commander Kenneth Hardiman, Fallings Park Red Watch Watch Commander Paul Hatton, Policy Team, HQ Firefighter Christopher Oliver, Stourbridge White Watch Crew Commander Gavin Robinson, Driver Training Section, Command Development Centre Firefighter Andrew Wall, Woodgate Valley Green Watch Firefighter Anthony Wallace, Oldbury White Watch.