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21-Oct-2014 16:46


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News Headlines...October 2014

To go straight to any of October's news click on the links below.

Tick Tock Test | Student Fire Safety | Winter Motorist Advice | Chimney Safety Promoted | Public Firework Displays | Fire Authority Meeting


TICK, TOCK, TEST! Before it’s too late. Test your smoke alarm this clock change weekend.

Monday 20 October

The public enjoying a fire station open day

Smoke, the silent killer, is responsible for over half of all deaths in accidental fires in the home  

Last year over half the 213 fire deaths in the home were caused by smoke inhalation. Working smoke alarms can give people the wake-up call they need to escape – because smoke will not, it will leave you for dead.

Shockingly, in  the majority of domestic fires with fatalities, smoke alarms were either absent or did not go off – and a common cause was missing or flat batteries. That is why the Fire Kills campaign, run in partnership with Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS), is asking people to make an online pledge to test their smoke alarms this clock change weekend (25-26 October). A simple push of the test button and you will test both the power supply and the detection mechanism.

In March 2014, nearly one in seven people tested their smoke alarms when they changed their clocks to British Summer Time. This autumn, HWFRS is determined that even more people will keep their loved ones safer from fire by testing their smoke alarms. Everyone can join in and pledge to Tick Tock Test.

Over half the people who died in fires in the home last year were 65 years old or over. So as well as testing their own alarms HWFRS is urging householders to test for people who might need help testing theirs. The few seconds it takes to test could provide a few valuable minutes for loved ones to escape safely. 

Fire Minister Penny Mordaunt said; “The simple act of pressing a button and testing the smoke alarms in your home could be the difference between life and death. On clock change weekend, when you turn back the clocks in your home I urge everyone to Tick Tock Test their smoke alarms too. It takes very little extra time and could well be a life saver.

“At the last clock change nearly 1 in 7 people reached for the test button and I hope that this October many more do the same, not just in their own homes but in the homes of those they know and love who might find it difficult to test for themselves”.

“I want to see thousands of responsible householders pledging to test – and then doing it over the weekend of 25-26 October. Let’s save more lives”.

Station Commander Alan Haley, from HWFRS said: “Smoke alarms are a well-proven life saving tool, but they are no use if they are not working. You are at least four times more likely to die in a fire if you don’t have a working smoke alarm, so taking the time to test the smoke alarms in your home could be a truly life saving decision.”

He continued: “The clock change weekend can act as a great reminder to test your smoke alarms – so over the weekend of 25-26 October why not test yours when you change the clocks.”

The new Fire Kills campaign focuses on the deadly effects of smoke –engulfing innocent victims as they sleep. Many people believe smoke will wake them up if fire breaks out – but it won’t, it will leave them for dead. A working smoke alarm is the most effective way to alert you to the danger. The campaign features radio adverts voiced by actor Robbie Gee describing how smoke creeps around and engulfs you. The press and online adverts feature people asleep at home being overcome by smoke.


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Student Fire Safety

Monday 13 October

Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) is supporting the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) ‘Blue Watch Scheme’, designed to make all properties safer, with a particular emphasis on student rental properties.

This particular campaign will see information and advice being given to both landlords and tenants, with smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors being provided by HWFRS.  With the new academic year commencing this month, students can be vulnerable, as often it is their first home away from mum and dad.

This targeted campaign has been supported by Worcestershire County Council divisional funds.  Councillor Richard Udall, Fire and Rescue Authority member said: “This initiative will fund approximately one hundred carbon monoxide detectors, and fire safety advice to both students and their landlords locally”.

Group Commander Adrian Elliott, from the Community Risk department said: “HWFRS identify those who are at risk in their community, and undertake targeted prevention and protection activities to help them stay safe.  In the year 2012-13, Fire service staff carried out nearly 4000 home fire safety checks (HFSCs), and this particular project is an extension to that existing fire safety prevention work”.

Finally Group Commander Elliott said: “Anyone unsure about the alarm they need should contact the Community Safety department on 0800 032 1155 for advice. We are here to help make sure homes are as fire safe as possible.”


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Winter weather advice for motorists

Monday 13 October

a winter road image

With the night’s drawing in and the weather starting to get colder, Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) is reminding motorists to get their cars ready for winter.

Road safety is a key element of the Service’s Winter Safety Campaign, and it works closely with the Safer Roads Partnership in West Mercia to highlight road safety throughout the year, particularly throughout the winter months.

Station Commander Alan Haley from HWFRS’s Community Safety department said: “Our crews get called to more road incidents than we do house fires each year, and so promoting safe driving is a vital part of our work.

“There are several factors to consider at this time of year – shorter daylight hours, the impact of the clocks moving back an hour and the forecast of colder and wetter weather – and each of these brings increased risks to road users.”

He urged motorists to take extra care when driving in the dark and to do all that they can to prepare their vehicles for winter.

Drivers are advised to:

  • Ensure their vehicles are properly serviced and that tyres have good tread depth.
  • Be mindful of keeping a safe distance from the car in front.
  • Clear all ice and snow off windows, mirrors, lights and roof - even for short journeys.
  • Be sure to have plenty of fuel and screen-wash to cope with any delays or diversions.
  • Check local news/travel advice when colder weather/icy conditions are forecast. 
  • Prepare an ‘emergency kit’ for the car in case of break down or delay (to include an ice-scraper, torch, warm clothes and a blanket, a pair of boots, a first aid kit, battery jump leads, a shovel for snow, food & drink, and a mobile phone charger for the car).

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Chimney fire safety promoted

Monday 6 October

Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) is highlighting chimney fire safety as part of this year’s Winter Safety Campaign.

Station Commander Alan Haley form the Community Safety department at HWFRS said: “We have been lucky with the weather so far this autumn but we always experience a peak in the number of chimney fires we get called to as the weather turns colder. Although this seasonal rise is to be expected, we are keen to highlight that many chimney fires can be avoided simply by taking a few simple safety measures.”

Station Commander Haley continued: “The key to preventing a chimney fire is ensuring that chimneys are swept regularly. We would urge anyone with a real fire or a wood burning stove to book an appointment now with an approved chimney sweep to have their chimney cleaned if they haven’t already done so this autumn”.

The Service also advises people to burn only the recommended fuel for their particular type of fire.

A full list of approved sweeps operating locally is available from www.nacs.org.uk or www.apics.org.uk or www.guildofmasterchimneysweeps.co.uk while more information on chimney fire safety can be found on the Service’s website at www.hwfire.org.uk under the Your Safety heading.

SC Haley urged people to act today to get their chimney swept while it is fresh in their minds and at the same time, to check that their smoke alarm is working as this will give an early alert to any fire in the home.


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Let us know about your public firework display

Monday 6 October

Fireworks image

Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) is encouraging anyone who is holding an organised public bonfire or firework display in Herefordshire or Worcestershire for Bonfire Night to let them know details about the event.

Station Commander Alan Haley from HWFRS’s Community Safety department explained: “Organised public displays are by far the safest way to enjoy Bonfire Night and so we are encouraging people to head along to one of these events with their families and friends rather than lighting fireworks themselves at home.”

He confirmed that HWFRS is compiling a list of organised bonfire and firework displays taking place across the two counties and that people can check out the list on the Service’s website on the Firework Display web page and find their nearest event. Further bonfire and firework safety advice will also be available on the website.

This list will be updated on a regular basis until Bonfire Night on Wednesday 5 November and anyone holding an organised bonfire or firework display in Herefordshire or Worcestershire can add their event to the list by calling HWFRS on 0800 032 1155 or emailing hfsc@hwfire.org,uk .


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Fire Authority Meeting

Wednesday 1 October

Fire Authority Crest

Fire stations that were previously being considered for closure to meet the significant financial savings required over the next few years are to remain open for the foreseeable future, Hereford & Worcester Fire Authority has confirmed today.

The Fire Authority has also confirmed that out of the original Community Risk Management Plan (CRMP) proposals to potentially remove ten fire engines from the Service’s forty-three frontline fire engines, a decision has been taken to remove two on-call second response fire engines. Furthermore, the Fire Authority has agreed to a change to some of the crewing systems and numbers of firefighters on fire engines at some fire stations.

Following a detailed consultation process the Authority considered the draft CRMP together with additional options that had arisen following the deferral of this item on two previous occasions and requests for further information from Members of the Authority. The Authority needs to address an overall budget shortfall of over £6 million in a five year period and whilst 73% of these savings will come from reductions in back office and management roles and through a range of internal service improvements, £1.7 million still needs to be found.

At the meeting Members agreed:

  • No fire engines will be removed from Hereford or Worcester fire stations. 
  • The second permanently crewed fire engines at Hereford and Worcester fire stations be changed to the Day Duty system, which is 12 hours permanently crewed and 12 hours on-call duty crewed in each 24 hours.
  • The second on-call fire engines at Ledbury and Tenbury fire stations be removed from the Service’s fleet of fire engines.

In addition to the above the Authority also agreed to change the numbers of crew on some other stations but deferred the implementation of this by use of reserves. They also instructed the Chief Fire Officer to investigate the feasibility of changing the day duty crewed fire engines at Hereford and Worcester, at some stage in the future, to also include permanent night cover, a system called Day Crewing Plus.

Cllr Derek Prodger MBE, Chairman of Hereford & Worcester Fire Authority said, “The detailed consultation process around the CRMP explored a number of ways in which the Authority could make the necessary financial savings. Following the consultation and further deliberation by the Authority, and in the light of some improvement in the financial position, the Authority has agreed a way of making the savings mainly through changes to crewing systems and crewing levels and by removing two fire engines instead of the ten that were originally proposed. Of course, we would prefer not to have to make savings from the frontline, and we recognise the concerns of the wider community, but we must deal with the budget shortfall we are facing. We have no other choice.

I have full confidence in the Chief Fire Officer and his management team, and we are satisfied that the detailed analysis, the public consultation and the revised proposal agreed today will allow us to make these changes with the least possible impact on our communities.”

The draft CRMP document originally proposed that the Authority could potentially close four fire stations (Bewdley, Broadway, Kingsland and Whitchurch), and that ten fire engines could be removed from the Service’s fleet. With an improvement in the financial position, mainly through an increase in the predicted amount of council tax to be collected, it has been possible to make less drastic changes and still achieve the budget savings now needed.

Changing the crewing system on the second fire engines at Hereford and Worcester fire stations offers a pragmatic solution to ensuring that both stations retain their three fire engines.

“Closing a fire station will always be a last resort for this Authority,” said Cllr Prodger. “At this moment in time we can meet most of our budget shortfalls by changes to back office and management structures as well as several other savings away from the frontline, indeed we have made over £4m savings in this manner already. However, there is only so much back office that can be taken without having an adverse impact on the Service itself. This means that some frontline savings are necessary, and the revised proposals do this with as little impact as possible. The Chief Fire Officer and his team continually strive to make efficiencies away from the frontline, but while we may be faced with some more tough decisions again in future years, for now these changes will help to meet some of the immediate savings needed.”

Chief Fire Officer Mark Yates said, “I am proud to work for Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service and believe we provide an excellent service across our two counties. Our staff are dedicated to making Herefordshire and Worcestershire safer, and while it is very hard to make changes that affect our frontline response, I do believe that we will still be able to provide an excellent service for our communities.

“I would like to thank everyone who took the time to respond to our consultation, because it was important for us to have an honest discussion about some significant issues and proposals being put forward. I echo the Chairman’s comments, and feel that although I would not wish to lose any of our frontline fire engines from the fleet, the recommendations approved today represent the best option in the present circumstances.”


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