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19-Dec-2014 16:11


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News Headlines...December 2014

Don’t let fire ruin festive cheer this Christmas

Friday 19 December

Christmas dinner, wrapping presents, decorating your home – there’s lots to think about this Christmas. But one thing Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) and the Fire Kills campaign are urging Herefordshire and Worcestershire residents to put top of their Christmas lists this year is fire safety.

Fire statistics show that in December, 20 people a day are either killed or injured in accidental fires in the home in England[1]. In December 2013, there were around 2,700 accidental fires in the home in England – more than any other month of the year.

And while fire safety is important throughout the year, the extra distractions of Christmas make it especially important to be vigilant during the festive season. This is why HWFRS is asking people to take extra care over the festive season to ensure that their families and loved ones are protected from fire.

Station Commander Alan Haley, Community Safety says: “Christmas is a time for festive cheer with family and friends. But fairy lights, candles and decorations means it is also a time to take extra care to keep our loved ones safe from fire”

He continued “We’re encouraging people through our Winter Safety Campaign to think about fire safety ahead of and during the Christmas period to avoid the risk of their Christmas being ruined.  Ensure your Christmas decorations and lights conform to British Standards, that candles are put in suitable holders and are kept away from curtains, and as we remind people all year round, never leave cooking unattended. Taking a little extra care and following these simple tips will ensure everyone is safe to enjoy the festivities”.  

Here are some simple tips to help you and your family enjoy Christmas safely:

  • Ensure you have working smoke alarms installed on all levels of your home. A working alarm can give you the vital time needed to escape in a fire. Test your smoke alarms regularly and never remove batteries!
  • Never leave cooking unattended.  The majority of fires start in the kitchen so this is a high risk area.  Many of us enjoy a merry tipple over the festive season but be sure to avoid cooking whilst under the influence of alcohol. Always turn off kitchen appliances when you have finished cooking.
  • Never leave burning candles unattended. Keep candles out of the reach of children, and away from decorations, cards and wrapping paper, fires, lights and heaters.
  • Put your cigarette out, right out.  Make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished and take care when under the influence of alcohol or tired. It’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and set furniture alight.
  • Don’t overload sockets. Ensure only one plug per socket.  Always turn off plugs when they are not in use, except those that are designed to be left on, like freezers.
  • Ensure you switch off fairy lights and unplug them before you go to bed, or leave the house. Check your Christmas tree lights conform to the British Standard (BS EN 60598) and are in good working order before use.
  • Always use an RCD (residual current device) on outdoor electrical equipment. This safety device can save lives by instantly switching off the power if there is a fault and can be found in any DIY store.
  • Do something good this Christmas. Test the smoke alarms of someone you know who may need help such as an older relative or neighbour to ensure their safety as they are at greater risk from fire.
  • Make sure that everyone in your home knows what to do in a fire – in the event of fire you should get out, stay out and call 999

From everyone at Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service we wish you all a very happy and safe Christmas.


[1] Fire Statistics GB, 2011-12


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Fire services recommend closer collaboration

Friday 12 December

Hereford & Worcester Fire Authority and its counterpart in Warwickshire have started the process of looking at how the two fire services can work together more closely to anticipate and address future challenges.

Each service has recently agreed their budgets up to the financial year 2016/17, which include reduced spending.

As part of planning for the future, Project Arrow has sought to respond to challenges that will be faced beyond 2017, particularly linked to the anticipated continuation of tight financial conditions.

Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service and Warwickshire FRS already collaborate in a number of areas, including supporting each other during periods of exceptional high demand or simultaneous major incidents.

Project Arrow looked at a range of options for closer working relations in the future, from no change right through to combining into one fire and rescue service.

The findings recommend an approach where the services commit to developing an operational collaboration. This will see the alignment of processes and policies in a number of operational areas, possibly including the likes of fire safety, health and safety, technical support and training and development. Consideration of greater integration in the future will also be considered.

Both fire authorities considered the proposals this week* at their respective meetings and agreed to the recommendations.

An interim report will be submitted to both fire authorities in the summer of 2015 detailing progress made, with a final report submitted by late 2015.

Councillor Derek Prodger, Chair of Hereford & Worcester Fire Authority, said:  "Project Arrow is about continually improving our working relationship to ensure we share our expertise, skills and experience to secure the future of our fire services. It’s about quality of service, improving resilience and reducing costs wherever possible.

“Although it is probably some time away, the more we align our practices now, the better we will be at working together if or when any closer collaboration occurs.”

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council, said:  "We should herald Project Arrow as the start of a better way for both services to work; its early stages, which we are discussing now, will establish how the fire services of both Warwickshire and of Hereford and Worcester can help the other to be stronger and more resilient without compromising their own capacities.

"Whilst this is very much a project for the future and will address challenges that we will face beyond 2017 it is absolutely right that we should look right now at ways that fire services can share processes and policies to enable us to gain the benefits that working together can potentially bring."

* The Hereford & Worcester Fire Authority meeting took place on 10th December and the Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Authority meeting took place on 9th December 2014.


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Public asked to make 999 calls wisely during Industrial Action

Monday 8 December

Hereford and Worcester Fire & Rescue Service (HWFRS) is urging members of the public not to make unnecessary 999 calls during this week’s period of industrial action.

HWFRS will be providing reduced emergency cover during the strike called by the Fire Brigades Union – which starts tomorrow (9 December) at 9am and continues for 24 hours – so is asking for help from the local community.

Area Commander Keith Chance, Head of Operations Support for Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Whilst the industrial action is on-going we will still be responding to emergency calls, but we are asking people to only call 999 if they really do need a fire engine.

“Our priority during the strike is to respond to those calls where a life may be at risk or someone needs to be rescued. If we respond to non-emergency calls then our response to those most in need could jeopardized.’

“A non-emergency call could be to someone who is locked outside their house or where debris has fallen in the road. There are other agencies and organisations that can help in this instance.”

Area Commander Chance said: “We do find ourselves in an unusual situation where we must prioritise our calls for those who are most in need of our assistance. However, I must emphasise that you should still call 999 in an emergency so that an experienced control room operator can deal with your situation. You must not try and call your local fire station directly.”

For further information please visit www.hwfire.org.uk or for fire safety advice call 0845 12 24454


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Fire Safety Advice During Industrial Action

Wednesday 3 December

Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) is urging members of the public to take extra care during the forthcoming Firefighter industrial action.

The strike action will take place Tuesday 9 December 0900hrs until Wednesday 10 December, 0900hrs. This period of strike action will see HWFRS operating a reduced service.

Adrian Elliott, Group Commander, HWFRS said “We are encouraging motorists and residents to take extra care during the strikes when there will be reduced fire cover. Not all of our firefighters are members of the Fire Brigades Union which means some stations will be working normally but people should be aware that it may take us a little longer to respond to calls in some instances”.

“During the firefighter strikes, we want people to be clear about what to do in the event of a fire. The most important point they need to know is that they will still get an emergency response and they should not be tempted to tackle fires themselves.” 

He continued: “General fire safety messages that we promote throughout the year become even more crucial at times of strike action.  An early alert to a fire in your home is just as important for avoiding injury and damage to property, and we would also like to remind people to install a smoke alarm on every floor of their home and to test each alarm is working on a weekly basis.”

He also encouraged people to plan an escape route and to make sure everyone in the house is aware of it.

Other fire safety messages to consider are:

  • Close inside doors at night to help prevent a fire from spreading.
  • Stub cigarettes out properly and dispose of them carefully.  Put them out.  Right out.
  • Take extra care in the kitchen and never leave cooking unattended.
  • Do not overload electrical sockets and watch out for faulty and over-heating electrical equipment and wiring or cables.
  • Don’t tackle a fire yourself.  Keep calm and act quickly, get everyone out as soon as possible.

For further information visit our Industrial Action advice page.


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