News Headlines...October 2014
To go straight to any of October's news click on the links below.
999 Calls | Princess opens Bromsgrove | Hereford Fire Station Planning | Service Wins Bids | Bonfire & Firework Safety | Tick Tock Test | Student Fire Safety | Winter Motorist Advice | Chimney Safety Promoted | Public Firework Displays | Fire Authority Meeting
Friday, 31 October, 2014
Hereford and Worcester Fire & Rescue Service (HWFRS) is urging members of the public not to make unnecessary 999 calls during this weekend’s period of industrial action.
HWFRS will be providing reduced emergency cover during the strike called by the Fire Brigades Union – which starts today (31 October) at 6pm and continues until 6pm on Tuesday 4th November – 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
Thursday 30 October
Worcestershire's first joint emergency services station was officially opened in Bromsgrove by Princess Alexandra today (Thursday 30 October).
Her Royal Highness arrived at Bromsgrove Police and Fire Station in Slideslow Drive at 2pm, where the Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire, Lt Col Patrick Holcroft LVO, OBE, presented local dignitaries including Chief Fire Officer Mark Yates.
Also present were the chairman of Hereford & Worcester Fire & Rescue Authority, Cllr Derek Prodger MBE, Chief Constable David Shaw from West Mercia Police, and Police and Crime Commissioner Bill Longmore.
They offered Princess Alexandra the opportunity to tour the new joint Bromsgrove Police and Fire Station.
The tour started at the new fire and rescue facilities where the Princess met firefighters and viewed fire engines and equipment before talking to volunteers and young firefighters about their work and roles. Her Royal Highness also met Group Leaders from Hereford & Worcestershire Fire and Rescue Authority.
Princess Alexandra then toured the police facilities to meet staff members, volunteers, partners and community recipients including the local Safer Neighbourhood Team.
The Princess also met the staff involved in youth engagement and cadet activities, officers responsible for policing our roads and the North Worcestershire Community Safety Partnership.
Chief Officer Mark Yates of Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service said: “We are delighted Princess Alexandra could join us to officially open Bromsgrove Police and Fire Station and to mark the occasion by unveiling a commemorative plaque.
“We already have a close working relationship with West Mercia Police and being stationed together is only cementing that further.
“It gives us greater joint training opportunities and will help us improve the management of incident scenes. It also is an excellent use of scarce resources in the current climate of reduced budgets.
“The official opening is the culmination of a lot of hard work by teams at Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service and West Mercia Police and I would like to thank all those involved.”
Chief Constable Shaw added: “Bromsgrove Police and Fire Station is the first project delivered under the Worcestershire Capital Asset Pathfinder initiative, which looks at how combining public services, such as police and fire and rescue, in one location, can lead to better local services, increased value for money and efficiencies through shared services.
“Being in the same building brings together specialist knowledge from both organisations and since moving into the new building in 2014, there have been many occasions when this has been extremely beneficial.”
The Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia, Bill Longmore said “Ensuring value for money for residents in Bromsgrove, while maintaining high quality, accessible services is very important. Sharing this building with the Fire Service is a great example of how the force is embracing new ways of working smarter with its partners.”
As well as improving joint working between police and fire colleagues, the new building is a ‘greener’ and more efficient solution for the town.
Solar panels contribute to heating and electricity and lighting sensors and a heating control system combine to minimise the carbon footprint. The rain water is also harvested to provide filtered water to the building, all helping to reduce annual running costs by up to 25%.
By joining forces, the police and fire service have also saved an estimated 20% on building costs.
The project has been funded by the police, with the fire service committed to a 25-year tenancy agreement.
For more information, please contact Hazel Nicholas at Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police Corporate Communications Dept on 01789 444754.
Wednesday 29 October
Following extensive consultation with local residents, the wider community of Herefordshire and key local historical groups, Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) has decided to withdraw its current application to build a new fire station in Bath Street.
Herefordshire Council had originally identified Bath Street as a suitable location for this scheme and approached HWFRS due to the site having sufficient space for our operational resources, its proximity to the existing fire station location to ensure the continued availability of our Retained Duty Staff and its access to the City.
As part of this development, Hereford Council had agreed to exchange part of the land at Bath Street in return for the current fire station site enabling the new station to be built and the site in St Owen Street redeveloped on completion of the scheme.
Having met all of its key strategic requirements, the Service duly submitted a planning application in August and engaged in an extensive public consultation process. Significant concerns were raised by a number of groups that the development was within the city’s conservation area.
Chief Fire Officer Mark Yates commented: ‘Having carefully considered the concerns raised during the public consultation process, the Service intends to withdraw its planning application for a new fire station in Bath Street at this present time with a view to considering how best to respond to the concerns.
The Service remains committed to building a new fire station that retains its location in the heart of Hereford and we will continue to consider our options.
‘We are looking to replace the current station in St Owen Street because it is in poor condition and no longer suitable for existing and future station requirements. A new station would incorporate essential training facilities for Hereford’s crews and have facilities providing exciting development opportunities to encourage the growth of the Young Firefighters Association in the city.’
Wednesday 22 October
Hereford and Worcester Fire Authority has been successful in attracting £4.2 million of additional funding from the Government’s Transformation Fund to pump prime two projects which seek to improve services and create future financial efficiencies. The news has been welcomed by the Chairman of the Fire and Rescue Authority, Councillor Derek Prodger MBE, and the Chief Fire Officer, Mark Yates.
The first project, which has been awarded £1.89 million, is to move the Fire Service Headquarters from its present location on the outskirts of Worcester to join West Mercia Police at their headquarters at Hindlip near Worcester. This move should foster a closer working relationship between the two blue light services as well as producing on going savings from the co-location of HQs.
The second project, which has attracted £2.38 million of funding, is to create a new Wyre Forest blue light hub which would relocate the existing three fire stations in the Wyre Forest area into a new purpose built centrally located station. It is also anticipated that this new facility would have space for Police and Ambulance colleagues as well as providing a new location for Severn Area Rescue Association. It is anticipated that this initiative will provide custom built facilities for all partners to better coordinate and deliver essential safety services as well as changing the way in which fire cover is provided in the area.
Councillor Prodger said, “The Fire and Rescue Authority welcomes any additional money to support projects that help us sustain our services into the future, so we are especially pleased that both of our grant bids were successful. There is a lot of detail that now needs to be worked up and presented to the Fire and Rescue Authority before any approvals can be given.”
Chief Fire Officer Mark Yates said, “While we are pleased with the success of our bids, we will always have public and firefighter safety as our first concern. Whilst I appreciate that any change in the services we provide can be unsettling for our staff as well as local communities, I can assure all parties that there will be full public consultation on the Wyre Forest project, and we’ll be working with local communities and their representatives to make sure that the projects, if approved, are successfully delivered without any adverse impact on the essential services we provide.”
“I have this morning met with the Wyre Forest MP, Mark Garnier, to ensure he is fully briefed on the Wyre Forest project and to give him assurances that we will fully consult his local communities before any decisions can be made by the Fire and Rescue Authority. I have taken on board his concerns about maintaining current resource levels in the area and have assured him that his resident’s safety is our primary concern.”
Wednesday 22 October
Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) is urging everyone to stay safe as they celebrate Bonfire Night (Wednesday 5 November).
The Service’s Community Safety department says they are keen for everyone in the community to take bonfire night and firework safety messages on board. They stress how important it is to follow the right safety procedures and to remember that fireworks can be dangerous if misused. They also want to highlight how much safer it is to go along to an organised bonfire and firework display rather than holding a celebration at home.
Station Commander Alan Haley from HWFRS said: “We are encouraging people to go along to an organised event with their families and friends as this is by far the safest option. A list of organised events can be found on our Service website. We do however, recognise that many people will be holding their own bonfire parties and get-togethers, and we want to remind them of some simple firework and bonfire safety tips to help avoid injury or any damage to their property.”
Firework safety tips:
- Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable.
- Only buy fireworks marked with British Standard Kitemark BS 7114 and buy them only from a reputable supplier.
- Don’t drink alcohol if setting off fireworks.
- Keep fireworks in a closed metal box and take them out one at a time.
- Always follow the instructions carefully when using them. Read them in daylight or by torchlight, never by a naked flame.
- Light the firework at arm’s length with a taper and stand well back.
- Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks.
- Never go back to fireworks once they are lit. Even if it hasn’t gone off, it could still explode.
- Never throw fireworks and don’t put them in your pocket.
- Always supervise children around fireworks and never give sparklers to children under five. Even when they have gone out they are still hot so put them in a bucket of water after use.
- Respect your neighbours – don’t let off fireworks late at night.
- Keep your pets indoors throughout the evening with the curtains closed.
Bonfire safety tips:
- Consider going to an organised bonfire event as the safest option.
- Never use flammable liquids to help start a bonfire and never burn dangerous items such as aerosol cans, paint tins, foam furniture or batteries.
- Build your bonfire well clear of buildings, garden sheds, fences, hedges and overhanging branches.
- Keep bonfires to a manageable size and evenly built so that they collapse inwards as they burn.
- Always check the bonfire’s construction is still sound prior to lighting it, that there are no children or animals inside and that hazardous items such as aerosols and fireworks have not been thrown onto it.
- Bonfires should be lit after the firework display unless positioned sufficiently far away to ensure stray sparks from the bonfire cannot fall into the firework area.
- Don’t leave bonfires unattended. An adult should supervise it until it has burnt out. If it has to be left, damp it down with water.
- Always keep a bucket of water or a hosepipe nearby in case of emergency.
- Make sure that the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving.
Monday 20 October
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.
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.”
Monday 13 October
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).
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.
Monday 6 October
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 email@example.com,uk .
Wednesday 1 October
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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