National Fire Chief’s Council pledges support following terror attack

Following the terrorist attack which took place in Westminster on March 22nd, the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has passed on its thoughts and sympathy to everyone affected by the tragedy.

The attack has now seen four fatalities and more than 40 people sustained injuries. This is the biggest terror attack in the UK since the London bombings in July 2005.

Chair of the NFCC Roy Wilsher said: “My thoughts are with everyone affected by the tragic events we saw unfold in London yesterday.

“It is devastating when we experience loss of life; especially when it is caused by needless terror attacks.

“I would like to offer my sincere condolences to everyone affected, especially the family of PC Keith Palmer who gave his life in the line of duty, to protect the public.

“Events such as yesterday bring home what an important role the emergency services play in every day life. It is always very difficult when we lose someone in the line of duty, and my thoughts are also with PC Palmer’s colleagues and the wider police force.

“The NFCC – along with the UK Fire and Rescue Service – will continue to work closely with the police and other emergency services.

“We work with the government on national and international issues; the public can be reassured where the fire and rescue service can offer help and support, it will assist at all levels.”

Roy Wilsher also praised the response from London Fire Brigade and how they dealt with a difficult situation in the capital.

He also said that the fire and rescue service trains with emergency services colleagues and others to respond to these sorts of incidents. He pinpointed how well these procures worked yesterday,  including the UK wide JESIP principles.


Spring into action

It is officially spring, traditionally we would give our homes a spring clean and wash the windows of a winter of accumulated soot and dust from the winter fires. Most of us don’t need to do this so  it’s great time to give your home safety a spring clean instead.

Smoke Alarms

You cannot underestimate the importance of a working smoke alarm. They won’t prevent a fire but they can buy you valuable time to get out of the house.

You should check the batteries are working by testing your alarms each week. As a reminder many fire services will ask you to #TestItTuesday. So, follow your local service on twitter or facebook  for your weekly reminder and plenty of other useful advice.


Give your smoke alarms a spring clean to remove any dust or debris, this will keep the sensor clear. Try and keep a spare smoke alarm battery in the house in case it needs replacing and don’t remove batteries from smoke alarms. In 2014-15 in 25% of fire incidents where a smoke alarm failed to respond it was because the battery was missing or flat. Some of these incidents resulted in death or serious injury.

Double check your alarms are correctly placed. They should be fixed to the ceiling – ideally in the centre of the room. Smoke will initially rise up to the ceiling before crawling down the walls and into corners of the room. So by fixing your alarm near the centre of the ceiling you are making sure there is no delay in the smoke activating the alarm. Don’t use glue or stickers to hold them in place (yes people have done that), they should be screwed in place.

Make sure you have the right alarm in the right place. People often get annoyed with their alarms activating when they are cooking or taking a shower and end up removing batteries. If this is the case your alarm may be too close to the kitchen or bathroom – move it.

The best type of alarm for a kitchen is a heat alarm. They are not sensitive to smoke and activate when there is a rapid increase in temperature or very high temperature. This also makes them useful for garages or workshops.

Households should make sure they have plenty of smoke alarms. The absolute minimum should be one on each level of the home. Ideally you would have one is each room. This is especially important as homes now have many electrical items in many rooms. It’s not unusual to have several televisions a couple of computers and several phones charging in most households. If your children have gadgets in their room install a smoke alarm. It costs less than a charger lead.

If you rent a property your landlord must install smoke alarms but it’s up to you to make sure they are regularly tested.

Plan your escape

If an alarm does go off,  knowing what to do makes a huge difference. We would be up in arms if schools didn’t train our children on how to respond and evacuate a school safely, yet how many people have thought about what they would do in their own homes.


Take a look around your home. Make sure you can easily move around. Don’t keep items on the stairs, they can cause an accident at the best of times. Make sure any exits are clear. Even if it’s an exit your household tends not to use on a daily basis in an emergency it might be the only escape route.


Clear any rubbish from garages and sheds as these can help fuel fires.

Try and ensure keys to windows and doors can be reached easily so you can unlock doors or windows to aid escape. Have a practice of your plan with the whole family.

Recent and ongoing research from Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service indicates that not all children may wake to the sound of a smoke alarm. If you have children or vulnerable people in your home you must take account of this. This means you must plan to physically alert them and assist them to escape.

If you need advice or help then take a look at your local fire and rescue services website. They may be able to provide and install smoke alarms or in some cases arrange a home safety check for you.

Smoke alarm and children research: Derbyshire FRS

Following national coverage on children and smoke alarms, based on research from Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service, in conjunction with the University of Dundee, Derbyshire FRS issued the following press release, ahead of the research being released.  

In 2013 Watch Manager Dave Coss from Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service commenced a field of study looking into children not waking to the sound of working smoke alarms.

This research was triggered by a terrible tragedy whereby six children from the same family, sadly lost their lives in a house fire in Derbyshire in 2012. WM Coss is now continuing with this research, as part of a PHD with Dundee University, and is launching the next phase of his study which will see a new alarm sound tested.

During the initial study, a total of 204 tests were conducted on 34 children (20 girls, and 14 boys aged 2-13 yrs.) in their own homes, using standard domestic smoke alarms (2500-4000hz) fitted within the property.

Parents activated their smoke alarms continuously for one minute after the children had gone to bed and then recorded the time taken for each child to wake. The children were given no prior warning of any tests and each child was tested six times.

The results obtained were that:

  • 80% of the children slept through the alarms on all six of the tests they were exposed to.
  • Only 7 children (all girls) woke at least once during the six tests.
  • Of these 7 children, only two, both girls aged 10 years, woke each of the six times the alarm was sounded.

You can read the full findings on Derbyshire’s website.


Mark Cashin CFOA Lead for Prevention said: “”The Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) know that working smoke alarms save lives and their use has significantly contributed to the long-term downward trend in fire fatalities.

“They can provide valuable early warning of a fire, allowing families to get out, stay out and call 999. But it is also crucial that people test their smoke alarms once a week and as this research does indicate that some children may not wake to the sound of a smoke alarm; parents, guardians and responsible adults should ensure that they prepare an escape plan which must account for this.

” Children must be woken and evacuated as part of this plan. CFOA welcomes any research that adds to our knowledge and that can allow people to be best prepared in the event of a fire incident.”




Policing and Crime Bill receives Royal Assent 

The Home Office has issued a statement about the Policing and Crime Bill. 

A key bill in the police reform agenda has today achieved Royal Assent .

The government marked a major milestone in its police reform agenda today (Tuesday, 31 January) as the Policing and Crime Bill received Royal Assent .

The  Policing and Crime Act 2017  will enhance the democratic accountability of police forces and fire and rescue services, improve the efficiency
and effectiveness of emergency services through closer collaboration, and build public confidence in policing.

It will strengthen the protections for persons under investigation by, or who come into contact with, the police; ensure that the police and other law enforcement agencies have the powers they need to prevent, detect and investigate crime;
and further safeguard children and young people from sexual exploitation.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said:

This act is another major milestone in our far-reaching police reforms over recent years.

The measures in the act give greater protections for the vulnerable, ensure the police have the necessary powers to keep our communities safe, and overhaul the police complaints and disciplinary systems to increase accountability and
improve police integrity.

We have also sought to ensure forces have the right people and skills to cope with the changing nature of crime, improve efficiency and effectiveness of our emergency services through greater collaboration and end the injustice of individuals
spending extended periods on pre-charge bail.

I look forward to continuing to work with the police and stakeholders as the measures in the act are implemented.

The act includes provisions which will:

  • reform pre-charge bail to put a stop to people remaining on bail for lengthy periods with no independent judicial scrutiny of its continued necessity
  • better enable chief officers to make the most efficient and effective use of their workforce by giving them the flexibility to confer a wider range of powers on police staff and volunteers (whilst for the
    first time specifying a core list of powers that may only be exercised by warranted police officers) and conferring a power on the Home Secretary to specify police ranks in regulations, thereby affording the flexibility to introduce a flatter rank structure
  • place a new duty on police, fire and rescue and emergency ambulance services to collaborate where it is in the interests of their efficiency or effectiveness and enable police and crime commissioners (PCCs)
    to take on responsibility for the governance of fire and rescue services, where a local case is made
  • improve the response to those in mental health crisis – including stopping those under 18 from being detained in a police station – and restricting such detention for adults – by reforming police powers
    under sections 135 and 136 of the  Mental Health Act 1983
  • reform the police disciplinary and complaints systems to ensure that the public have confidence in their ability to hold the police to account, and that police officers will uphold the highest standards
    of integrity
  • increase in the maximum sentence for stalking involving fear of violence from five to ten years’ imprisonment
  • amend the  Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE), including to ensure that 17-year-olds
    who are detained in police custody are treated as children for all purposes, and to facilitate the increased use of video link technology
  • amend the firearms acts to better protect the public by closing loopholes that can be exploited by criminals and terrorists, and by issuing statutory guidance to ensure that the robust processes we have
    in place for assessing suitability to hold a firearms certificate are applied consistently
  • confer pardons, subject to conditions, for individuals living or deceased who were convicted of now abolished gay sex offences
  • improve protection for victims of forced marriage and give them more confidence to come forward by providing them with lifelong anonymity 

Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, Brandon Lewis, said:

Police reform is working and crimes traditionally measured by the survey have fallen by a third since 2010 to a record low.

I am delighted this act has now received Royal Assent and, in close collaboration with police and fire stakeholders, we will work hard to implement the act’s provisions to further improve the effectiveness and accountability of our emergency services.

Tyne and Wear fire cadets to be honoured with national award at Buckingham Palace


A group of Tyne and Wear fire cadets are heading to Buckingham Palace today (Tuesday, 31 January) to collect a national award for voluntary work in their local community.

The West Denton fire cadet unit will receive the Youth United Social Action Award in the presence of HRH The Prince of Wales, who is the patron of the Youth United Foundation.

The group of 15 cadets, aged between 11 and 18, won the award for their work alongside young people from the North Benwell Youth Project in a community clean-up day in and around the Farndale Park area of Newcastle.

Fire cadets living in the immediate area recognised the emerging problems and asked to be involved in the day of action to give something back to their community. They spent a day collecting 78kg of refuse from the back lanes of the area.

In leading by example, the cadets not only physically removed the refuse but also encouraged other young people to become involved and understand the impact they can make to improve where they live.

Assistant Chief Fire officer Chris Lowther, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “All our cadets do an excellent job in promoting fire safety and carrying out voluntary work in their communities, and we are extremely proud that the West Denton unit have earned national recognition for their hard work and dedication.

“This represents an amazing opportunity for our young people to attend such a prestigious venue and is fantastic recognition for not only their work but also for youth work across Newcastle.”

Fire cadet Johnny Hunter, 15, said: “I feel very privileged and proud of the cadets and Newcastle. I hope that other fire cadet units will be inspired to do the same as we have. We have helped our local community and had great fun while doing it. I am very excited to be going to Buckingham Palace to receive the award, I’m certain it will be an experience I will never forget.”

Rachel Coates, 17, said: “I am very proud and excited. This whole experience is overwhelming, and winning this award with the rest of the unit, my friends, makes me very happy.”

Watch Manager Karen Soady, who is an instructor with West Denton fire cadets, said: “We have a truly inspirational group of young people who are always willing to take on any challenge they are presented with. No is not a word in their vocabulary. Their enthusiasm and drive to enhance their community is an excellent example to all young people of what can be achieved by working together.

“It is a privilege to represent not only the fire cadets and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service but also the North East, which is a great honour.”

Tyne and Wear Fire Authority Chairman, Cllr Tom Wright, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for the fire cadets and I congratulate them on this prestigious award. They are a credit to themselves, their families and the fire and rescue service.”

Information provided by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service

Police campaign against drivers mobile use

This week police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will begin a fresh operational push against mobile phone use by drivers.

The campaign runs from today (Monday 23 January – Sunday 29 January).CFOA and many fire and rescue services will be supporting this campaign. Fire services respond to thousands of road traffic accidents every year and hope this campaign will encourage people to change their behaviour and prevent many of these incidents happening in the future.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue service responding to one of the hundreds of road accidents that occur in their area

This latest campaign follows an earlier one in November 2016 in which 36 police forces took part.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) have today announced that in that week long campaign in November 10,012 vehicles were stopped. This resulted in 7,800 fixed penalty notices, 689 court summons and hundreds of verbal warnings. 117 other driving distraction offences such as eating while driving were also identified.

Throughout this campaign week police forces will run targeted operations and education campaigns.

Operations include:

 targeted patrols using unmarked vans, high vantage points and helmet cams to catch offenders;

 partnership with local authorities and emergency services to deter people from taking the risks;

 innovative digital campaigns to communicate that the risks are more serious than people think;

  Community ‘spotters’ to highlight hotspots and report repeat offenders to police

  Advising the public about changes to penalties for mobile phone use by driving from 1 March 2017


Recent studies show the use of mobile phones when driving is widespread and the risks drastically underestimated.

Chief constable Suzette Davenport, the NPCC’s lead for roads policing said: “This week forces will be working to make driving distracted as socially unacceptable as drink driving through enforcing strong deterrents and powerful messages to make people think twice about their driving habits.

“Encouraging results from last year’s campaign against mobile phone use show how effective new tactics and innovative approaches can be. Officers will continue to use intelligence-led tactics to target police activity and resources and catch repeat offenders.

“Forces will be working throughout the year to tackle this behaviour by motorists with national partners and the public.

At the moment drivers in England, Scotland and Wales risk three penalty point and a £100 fine is caught using a phone behind the wheel. But this is due to increase to six penalty points and £200 fine later in 2017. Additionally newly qualified drivers could be made to resit their driving test and experienced drivers could go to court if they offend twice, which could result in £1000 fine and a six-month driving ban.

Look out for the following hashtags on social media to support this campaign #ItCanWait and #EyesOnTheRoad

If you’re serious about home safety, remember to register

Today is Register My Appliance Day and so appliance manufacturers are reminding their customers that they can instantly improve their home safety by taking a few minutes to register their white goods. These are the items that we rely on every day but often have never registered.

The latest YouGov survey for the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances (AMDEA) has found that fewer  than half (43%) of British adults usually register their large domestic appliances with the manufacturer.  Of those that don’t always register, 39% said this was because they forgot and 29% didn’t think it was necessary.  Potentially they all risk missing out on product safety warnings.

CFOA encourages people to register their appliances as this is simple and sensible precaution as it ensures that manufacturers can contact consumers swiftly if a safety repair is ever needed.

Second hand goods

Only 15% of consumers realised they could register an appliance with the manufacturer if they acquired it second hand. Just 18% understand that they can register an appliance at any time after purchase: 24% thought this was only possible at the time of purchase and 35% thought the item had to be within the warranty period.

As a bonus, to tempt owners to register their January sale bargains or the thousands of older models already running in their homes, many of the 60 leading brands on are offering to enter registrants into free draws for a range of desirable prizes.

According to recent official estimates, UK homes are currently using around 93 million (92.7m.) wet and dry large appliances. They are kept for ten or many more years yet, unlike cars, the vast majority are untraceable and have never had a health check. So even if your appliance are nor new or you have purchased them second hand

The YouGov survey also revealed that 70% of GB adults with a fridge or  fridge freezer over ten years old  have never had a professional review or check to verify if they are safely connected or running correctly.

How to register your appliances

It’s very simple to register your appliance, just follow these steps

  • First you need details of your appliance, this will include, brand name, model number and serial number. All this information should be printed and a safety plate attached to appliance. For washing machine sand tumble driers it will be at the entrance to the drum and in fridges or freezers inside the main compartment.
  • You will need a purchase date, this can be approximate
  • Go to input your appliances details
  • You appliance will now be registered – simple as that

CFOA is also encouraging people to check the appliances of older or vulnerable friends as they are more likely to have older, unregistered appliances

15 Fire & Rescue Services now mobilised for East coast surge

As a result of the east coast surge, 15 Fire and Rescue Services have been mobilised to assist as bad weather continues across the UK. The high tides are expected later today.

Mobilisation has currently taking place in the following areas: Lincolnshire (Skegness and Louth); Norfolk; Suffolk and Humberside.

The storm surge threatens to put thousands of homes at risk and severe flood warnings are in place along the eastern coat of England.

The Environment Agency has put its highest possible alert out for coastal areas of Norfolk and Suffolk. Mire than 80 flood warnings and 80 flood alerts are in place.

According to the EA, high tides – due to spring tides and a tidal surge – combined with gale force winds will cause “large waves and sea spray resulting in potential damage to flood defences and flooding of property”.

Fire and rescue service and other National Resilience assets have been deployed to help protect the public threatened by the tidal surge.

This is organised through CFOA and National Co-ordination and Advisory Framework (NCAF).

Fire and Rescue Services currently deployed include: Surrey; Bedfordshire; London Fire Brigade; Hertfordshire; Northamptonshire; Herford & Worcester; West Midlands; Nottinghamshire; Oxford; Cumbria; South Wales; Warwickshire; Nottinghamshire; Derbyshire and South Yorkshire.

Assets currently deployed include FRS boats, non FRS boats, tactical advisers, flood rescue teams, high volume pumps and command units.

The break down is as follows:

  • Water rescue boat team (Type B powered boats): 10 (not all FRS assets)
  • Enhanced Logistical Support  teams: 2
  • High Volume pumps: 7
  • High Volume Pump Tactical Advisors: 2
  • Flood rescue Tactical Advisers: 9


The Fire and Rescue Service makes the largest contribution to the national flood response capability, with more than 100 powered rescue boat teams and 36 non-powered rescue boat teams immediately available for deployment. CFOA is committed to working alongside the police, ambulance service, the military and other partners to ensure the best possible response is delivered to communities when affected by wide area flooding.

During Storm Desmond Christmas 2015  and Storm Gertrude at the beginning of 2016, Fire and Rescue Services from across the UK worked tirelessly to assist.

This was part of a national response, coordinated by CFOA’s national resilience arrangements. This means teams can be quickly mobilised nationally to assist with equipment, rescue teams and expertise.

Fire and Rescue Services across the UK worked together to deliver a co-ordinated response to the widespread flooding with high volume pumps and other specialist equipment being mobilised, alongside personnel trained to deal with the flooding caused by the severe weather.

This included the deployment of fire appliances, teams, high volume pumps, wading teams, swift water rescue trained firefighters on powered rescue boats, tactical advisers, logistical support and standard fire pumps.

  • High volume pumps are capable of moving up to 7,000 litres of water per minute, while powered boats crewed by swift water rescue trained firefighters and wading teams are essential in helping to rescue people and ensuring vital supplies can be delivered.
  • These numbers are supplemented by almost every fire appliance in the UK; with firefighters trained and equipped to provide as a minimum an initial rescue capability. This response can be sustained over an extended period of time.
  • The National Resilience Assurance Team (NRAT), supported by lead CFOA officers, coordinates the national response and provides vital support to government
  • CFOA believes the way forward in delivering an efficient, resilient and cost effective national response to major flooding events should be based on a clear statement of duties, with Fire and Rescue Services playing a leading role. In addition it is critical that the government continues to properly and fully fund National Resilience Assets to ensure they are always available to emergencies such as this
  • The Fire and Rescue Service also coordinates a national response to wide area flooding on behalf of DEFRA through a well-established and highly effective National Coordination and Advisory Framework