Firefighters in Suffolk are joining forces with blue light colleagues at the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) to help provide life-saving frontline care during the coronavirus pandemic. Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service has volunteered and trained about 30 firefighters to work alongside paramedics to respond to 999 calls over the coming weeks. The firefighters are already blue light trained and will drive frontline emergency NHS ambulances, in turn freeing up paramedics to care for patients. Demonstration of the emergency services The firefighters have completed an induction course at Newmarket Ambulance Station, which included familiarising them with EEAST’s vehicles and equipment. They were also taught basic life support and safe moving and handling skills so that they can help transfer patients. Paul Marshall, Head of Operations for Suffolk and North Essex, said, “I feel hugely inspired right now because I know there are a lot of people out there who are very worried. But I feel this sense of togetherness is a demonstration of the emergency services at their best, coming together in the public’s time of need to meet this national emergency head on.” Maintaining social distancing We would urge people to continue to play their part in helping the NHS by taking extra care of themselves" Marcus Bailey, Chief Operating Officer with EEAST, said, “We are very grateful to our blue light colleagues in the fire and rescue service and look forward to working closely with them to keep our patients, staff, volunteers and the wider public safe during this pandemic.” “COVID-19 represents an unprecedented challenge for all of us and we truly appreciate the fantastic support we have received from the fire service, the public, businesses and our other partners. We would urge people to continue to play their part in helping the NHS by taking extra care of themselves, only going out for essential items, observing advice about hand-washing and maintaining social distancing.” Exceptional community spirit Mark Hardingham, Chief Fire Officer with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said, “I’d like to say thank you to the firefighters and officers who have volunteered to support our friends in the ambulance service. In Suffolk, both services already work closely together at incidents and share several stations around the county.” “We have worked hard to ensure our firefighters will be appropriately trained and protected for this redeployment, and it’s another example of the exceptional community spirit and action we’re seeing across the country. It is in our nature to help the public, and at this time the public can help us by simply staying at home.”
FPA’s first Building a safer future seminar of 2020 attracted over 150 delegates to London to hear the latest updates from the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire. The expert speakers discussed competency, governmental and regulatory changes ahead, third party certification (TPC), dilemmas for the fire and rescue service (FRS) and toxicity. FPA’s managing director Jonathan O’Neill opened by ‘tracking the progress’ of the government’s recent announcements, which he had been ‘sceptical’ about prior, but reflected ‘how wrong could I have been’; the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) having ‘clearly been very busy in recent months’. The day included talks from: Chandru Dissanayeke, MHCLG; Douglas Barnett, BAFE; Allan Hurdle, Smoke Control Association; Dennis Davis, Fire Sector Federation; Howard Passey, FPA; Mark Hardingham, National Fire Chiefs Council; David Poxon, FPA; and Dr Jim Glockling, FPA. FPA will be hosting another Building a safer future seminar on Thursday 28 May 2020 at the Cavendish Centre, London.
The Fire Protection Association’s (FPA) Building a Safer Future Seminar, held on Monday, January 27th, 2020 in London (sponsored by BAFE), played out the on-going discussion of competency within both the combined construction and fire safety industries. Chair of the event and Managing Director of the FPA, Jonathan O’Neill OBE, opened the seminar affirming his continued “whole-hearted” support for Third Party Certification, stating “I have been banging the drum for long enough on behalf of the FPA, and am delighted when the Fire Sector Federation decided to adopt Third Party Certification being one of its policy objectives in the forthcoming Building Regulations review”. Reflecting on Grenfell Fire Tragedy Chandru Dissanayeke also noted that Phase 2 of the Grenfell Inquiry starts this week Chandru Dissanayeke, Director of Building Safety Reforms - MHCLG, began with his presentation explaining that his role since Grenfell has been to revisit the terrible events that unfolded on 14th June 2017 every day. He stated, “This was exhausting and emotionally draining but strongly emphasised that it was important, considering an event like Grenfell should never happen again”. Chandru Dissanayeke also noted that Phase 2 of the Grenfell Inquiry starts this week. He said, “Phase 2 of the Inquiry will examine the circumstances and causes of the disaster, including how Grenfell Tower came to be in a condition which allowed the fire to spread in the way identified in Phase 1.” Ensuring building fire safety Mr. Dissanayeke also discussed the new building safety programme and that it will be “delivered through measures to make existing buildings safer now and reforming the system for the future for new and existing buildings.” As at the UK Construction Week in October 2019, Chandru Dissanayeke underlined his presentation with the fact that this is a matter of protecting the legacy for future generations. He was very conscious that there is a desire for change and an impatience for Government to “get on with it” – referring to Jonathan O’Neill’s speech from the FPA’s Fire Sector Summit back in November. Importance of Third Party Certification During his time on stage, Mr. Dissanayeke said “Third Party Certification has a part to play in demonstrating the quality of designers, installers, maintainers and the materials used. It was described as a very good tool, but Government needs help and requires the [construction and fire safety] industry to step up and lead the way.” Douglas Barnett, Chairman – BAFE, opened his presentation stating, “Other than leaving the EU on Friday (31/01/2020), this date marks the 16th anniversary of the Rosepark Care Home fire and questioned if lessons had been learned from this event. The Rosepark Care Home fire in 2004 killed 14 elderly residents.” Mr. Barnett argued very little action has been taken in those number of years [other than Scotland requiring sprinklers in new care homes and guidance from the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) in Northern Ireland distributing information on using competent fire risk assessors]. He stressed on the need to push the Government, and the industry to work on this. UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification There’s got to be an increase of recognition for competence and all elements of competence" Coming from the insurance sector (as Director of Customer Risk Management – AXA), Mr. Barnett stated that “competence is a massive, massive issue. There’s got to be an increase of recognition for competence and all elements of competence”. He noted the benefits of UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification pointing out the three key areas in gaining this and demonstrating competence: knowledge, skill and attitude. He stressed without the right attitude, it all falls down, stating “People have got to buy in to doing the right thing. Have you got the right attitude when you’re actually looking at what the client’s asking you to do?” Having all three elements of this “demonstrates a commitment to quality for the end client”. Compliance of Fire safety legislations Mr. Barnett also defined “not every Third Party Certification scheme is the same” and later discussed UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) who ensure the ‘checkers’ (i.e. Certification Bodies) are appropriate and can suitably assess the contractor to determine said competence. Further information on UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification can be found here Mr. Barnett noted “One thing that Jonathan [O’Neill] and the Fire Sector Federation did was look at statutory defence. This is actually a very quick win for legislators - is there a statutory defence if a building owner/manager has done as much as they can by using appropriate Third Party Certificated contractors?” Amendment to building regulations Mr. O’Neill added at this point stating, “The barrister came back with this his advice and said he thought it would be a very easy thing for Government to do, it would simply be a case of incorporating it in guidance. And as far as the Building Regulations were concerned, similarly a quick amendment to Approved Document B would probably suffice.” He continued, “now that we are seeing the Government go down the route of choosing the HSE, we are likely to see the adoption of approved codes of practice going forward.” Dennis Davis, Executive Officer – Fire Sector Federation, complimented Mr. Barnett’s presentation with reiterating the areas required to raise the bar of competency. Mr. Davis listed competency as knowledge and understanding, skills and application and reliability and responsibility (i.e. attitude). He noted the task is to bring the industry to acknowledge the three strands of competency and discussed the work of the Hackitt Review CSG (Competency Steering Group) and WG0 (Working Group 0 - Overarching Competence Body). He supplemented Jonathan O’Neill’s earlier comments by saying, “There is a big issue around culture, and I suspect one of the reasons the HSE has been appointed as the building regulator is to drive culture. They were brought in by the Deputy Prime Minister 20 years ago to stop deaths in the construction industry, and they have been extremely successful. And I think this is the same sort of logic to drive a culture through a process.” FPA’s Building a Safer Future Seminar FPA seminar covered multiple topics including smoke control, toxicity and the Fire and Rescue Service The seminar also covered multiple other topics including smoke control, toxicity and the implications for the Fire and Rescue Service post Grenfell. Importantly, Mark Hardingham, Chair of the NFCC (National Fire Chiefs Council) Protection and Business Safety Committee, highlighted his focus. Mark said, “Although Grenfell Tower has focused our attention on high rise residential buildings, they’re not the ones that keep me awake at night [as his role as Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer]. I’m much more focused around care homes, specialised housing, hospitals, student accommodation and others besides. The risk is there with high rise residential buildings, but I think there are from my perspective some equally significant, sometimes more significant, issues that we’re finding elsewhere in the built environment.” Effective building fire safety policies In the question and answer panels following presentations a question was asked to highlight the “priority items that could be addressed to try and take us forward, quickly and effectively, towards the levels of safety that the recent tragedies have demonstrated we need.” Mr. Davies responded “There are definitely quick wins. One quick win for example is Third Party assurance. Third Party assurance to us is one of the first steps in eradicating some poor quality and getting standards to a point where at least you know the people who are dealing with this issue, whatever the issue is, understand from a fire safety perspective.” Frazer Wisniewski, Marketing Manager – BAFE, also who attended the event commented, “The seminar thoroughly discussed the huge topic of competency and the development and scope for a far safer construction and built environment from fire. BAFE will continue to monitor and develop our portfolio of schemes to ensure they remain the best levels of evidence when demonstrating competency of contractors.” Providing efficient fire and rescue service Frazer added, “What is important is to stress, as Mark Hardingham touched on, is the discussion of competent fire safety and the need to apply this to all buildings – especially other potential high risk buildings with vulnerable residents such as care homes. High rise residential buildings have focused the attention, and now this needs to continue throughout the existing and new built environment. BAFE will continue to promote the value of Third Party Certification but require further support from the industry to raise public awareness to benefit everyone, from building management to the Fire and Rescue Service and looking forward, the HSE.”
Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service has undergone its most comprehensive, independent inspection in many years and has been rated as “Good” for its effectiveness, efficiency and how well it leads and manages its staff. The findings come from a report published on Tuesday, 17 December 2019 by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), who inspected Suffolk’s service earlier this year. Inspectors reviewed every aspect of the service, from how we respond to 999 emergencies, to looking at policies and interviewing a wide range firefighters and staff. The report praised many aspects of the service, particularly how well it collaborates with other emergency services and agencies, how it responds to fires and other emergencies, how it ensures fairness and promotes diversity, and the financially sound way the service is run. hard work and dedication The inspection has reported a balance between what we do well and what we need to do better" Mark Hardingham, Chief Fire Officer, said: “The ‘Good’ rating we have been given is pleasing and positive for our first inspection. This is down to the hard work and dedication of all our staff and I’m extremely proud to be their, and Suffolk’s, Chief Fire Officer. The inspection has reported a balance between what we do well and what we need to do better, much of which is already in hand and some of which will be new work." "I’m especially pleased that the work we have all been doing on leadership, culture, values, equality and inclusion has been recognized. We will never stop working to ensure we provide a good and professional fire and rescue service to Suffolk’s communities whenever they need us.” fire and rescue staff Councillor Richard Rout, Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection at Suffolk County Council, said: “I’d like to thank all our fire and rescue staff for their professionalism and commitment, especially those involved in the inspection process who engaged in an open and honest way to help us improve even further. This report reflects the hard work of our professional firefighters, managers, 999 control and non-operational staff who work tirelessly to ensure they provide good services to people across Suffolk." In recent years we have done this with new uniforms, fire engines, support vehicles and equipment" "I know from regularly speaking to firefighters and staff, that the service is in good hands, and Suffolk is a safe place to live and work. There is always room for improvement, and we will continue to work on these areas highlighted in the report. Our fire service is held in high regard across the county and country, and I understand the importance of continued investment.” support vehicles and equipment “In recent years we have done this with new uniforms, fire engines, support vehicles and equipment. As part of this ongoing investment, we are proposing to increase the service’s budget by £500,000 plus inflation next year. This increase of close to £1m will help contribute to delivering on the improvements identified in the report, alongside our existing plans for investment.” HMICFRS has now completed its first inspection of all 45 fire and rescue services across the country. These will continue to happen regularly, and it is proposed Suffolk will be inspected again in 2021. HMICFRS will also be publishing its ‘State of the Nation’ report summarizing the findings from the inspections of all 45 fire and rescue services in England in the coming weeks.
Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service is looking for new whole-time firefighters as it opens its doors to all members of the community from early December 2019. The opportunity to become a whole-time firefighter only comes around every few years and candidates are encouraged to submit their applications sooner rather than later. The six-week window may close early if the Service receives a high volume of applications. Responding To Emergency Calls We want men and women from many backgrounds and with all sorts of experiences" Around one in three of Suffolk’s firefighters are whole-time, with other firefighters being ‘on-call’ which means they often have another job and respond to emergency calls as required. Mark Hardingham, Chief Fire Officer, explains who the Service is hoping will apply: “We want men and women from many backgrounds and with all sorts of experiences, and we want people with great and positive attitudes. If you think this is you then I’d encourage you to grasp this opportunity. The fire service provides you with a great career and Suffolk is a wonderful place to work so I would really welcome your application.” Other Emergency Incidents “Dealing with fires and many other emergency incidents is an important part of the firefighter’s role, but it’s so much more than that as well. As a firefighter you will work with young and older people to help them live safer lives and will visit local businesses and other organizations to ensure their buildings are safe in the event they catch fire.” I want our fire service to be representative of the many different communities we serve" “I want our fire service to be representative of the many different communities we serve. In recent years we have recruited many more female firefighters. I want this to continue and welcome even more applications from women and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities in and around Suffolk.” Learning About Fitness Requirements “We are continuing to ensure our fire service is an enjoyable and inclusive place to work for all our staff, ensuring everyone can realize their personal and professional potential. We work with many networks including Suffolk Women in Fire Together (SWIFT) and Asian Fire Service Association (AFSA) who continue to do excellent work to support our ambitions in being a diverse team.” The Service recently ran several very popular recruitment taster days. Hundreds of members of the public met with firefighters and staff to find out about the role of a firefighter and the work of all staff across the Service. Those who attended were able to try on firefighting clothing and equipment, learn about the fitness requirements and see what happens on a working fire station.
West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service will be joining other fire and rescue services across the UK in promoting business fire safety this week. Business Fire Safety Week runs from 9-15 September and aims to provide businesses with information and advice to reduce the number of fire incidents and false alarms in the workplace, both of which impact business safety and productivity. Protecting Businesses From Arson Statistics show that in 2017-18 there were 19,033 fires in UK businesses with about 30% (5,293) being deliberately set. In West Sussex, firefighters were called out 47 times to fires in non-dwelling properties between June 1 and June 30 (the most recent figures). Businesses are asked to double check they have taken the steps required by law to protect their business and employees from fire. In particular: Preventing fires in the workplace Protecting businesses from arson Reducing false alarms in the workplace Protecting accommodation on commercial premises Misuse Of Electrical Equipment Around a third of fires in the workplace result from electrical faults and misuse of electrical equipment" Lee Spencer-Smith, West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service’s Group Commander for Business Fire Safety, said: “Many small businesses never recover from the damage caused by fire, so it is really important to factor in fire safety particularly as part of preparations in the run up to Christmas.” “Around a third of fires in the workplace result from electrical faults and misuse of electrical equipment. The majority of these fires are likely to be preventable by taking some simple steps and making sure staff are fully trained and aware of the risks. I would urge all business owners to stop and think if they are fully prepared for the risk of fire this Business Fire Safety Week.” Chair of NFCC's Protection and Business Safety Committee, Mark Hardingham, said: "We encourage business owners to get in touch with their local fire service and find out about the help available so business can flourish and support the UK economy and local community in a safe and sustainable way."