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.


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.

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

Fire and Rescue Services mobilised to assist with East coast surge

As a result of the current Arctic blast currently sweeping the country, emergency plans have been put in place in preparation for the potential of an East coast surge.

This includes the deployment of fire and rescue service and other National Resilience assets.

This follows the cold northerly wind which hit parts of the country and bad weather is set to continue.

This deployment is to help protect the public threatened by the East Coast tidal surge and is organised through CFOA and National Co-ordination and Advisory Framework (NCAF).

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

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

Updates will be issued as the situation progresses and changes.

Fire and Rescue staff recognised in New Year Honours

Huge congratulations from the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) to all those who have received a New Year’s Honour from the Queen.

The list below highlights those honoured who work in fire and rescue services.

These were decided by an honours committee; its decisions then go to the Prime Minister and then to the Queen, who awards the honours.

The Honours system recognises people who have:

  • made achievements in public life
  • committed themselves to serving and helping Britain

Nominations are judged on:

  • degree of risk
  • how aware the nominee was of the danger
  • persistence

Honours for services including those to the fire and rescue services, fire safety and to the community were awarded to the following:

Awarded the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)

Dr Brian Derek WARD  Head, National Resilience Assurance Team. For services to the Fire and Rescue Service and National Resilience

Awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)

Robin Iffla, SFRS Board Member, services to equality & community cohesion in Scotland.

Ms Donna Joanne FINCH, Community Development and Safeguarding Manager, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service. For services to Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults in the community

Medallist of the Order of the British Empire (BEM)

Peter Kenneth CLARKE, For services to the community in Croydon through the Crossfire Team, London Fire Brigade

Simon James JAKEMAN Firefighter, London Fire Brigade. For services to Sustainability and Energy Efficiency in the London Fire Brigade.

Prithipal Singh KANG For services to Fire and Rescue Awareness and Community Cohesion in North Kent.

Awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal (QFSM)

Lately, Chief Fire Officer (Retired July 2016) Northumberland Fire & Rescue Service

Group Manager, Leicestershire Fire & Rescue Service

Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive
Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service

DAVIES Christopher
Chief Fire Officer, Mid & West Wales Fire & Rescue Service

Watch Manager Ian Bell, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service

CFOA responds to Radio 5 Live programme on second appliances

Following the recent Radio 5 Live programme ‘5 Live Investigates’ on fire appliance response times, the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) would like to clarify a key point made in the programme.

During the programme, it was stated that firefighters are not allowed – by law – to enter a burning building before a second appliance arrives as back-up.

CFOA would like to reassure the public that this is not the case; this is an untrue statement which misrepresents fire and rescue services and the thousands of firefighters working across the UK to keep the communities they serve safe.

In the example given during the news item it implied that there was no intervention by fire crews before the second appliance arrived. This is not a true record of events; the first attending appliance had commenced firefighting and rescue immediately on arrival.

National Operational Guidance allows firefighters to enter a property to conduct lifesaving operations within a safe system of work, even when crew numbers are limited.

CFOA has also highlighted the Fire and Rescue Services operate to their own local plans, called Integrated Risk Management Plans (IRMP).

These allow individual services to assess risks to communities, meaning resources can be targeted to prevent incidents and ensure resources are in the best location. These plans are tailored to meet the needs of the community, the environment, commercial activity, local needs and also economic factors.

This approach allows services to more responsive to local needs and the plans are reviewed, monitored and updated regularly.

The programme itself focused on response times based on a Freedom of Information request by the BBC. 60 per cent of fire and rescue services stated that second fire engines were slower to respond to house fires currently than in 2010.

While Government figures show response times across the UK are up by 20 seconds for dwelling fires, CFOA firmly believes that these figures should not be taken in isolation; risk management plans and National Operational Guidance must be taken in account when looking at these statistics.

Following the Home Secretary’s Fire Reform announcement earlier this year, CFOA made a commitment to work with the Government to drive reform forward, including CFOA taking a leading role in seeking assurance that fire and rescue service funding will be sustainable.

It is a well documented fact that austerity measures has led to fire budget cuts of more than £300 million during the last six years (28% of government funding), which has had an impact on recruitment.

In addition, the number of operational staff has fallen by almost a fifth in the last five years. All Services use their resources in the most effective way to serve their communities.

Don’t let neighbours be lonely this Christmas….

Following the news story about an 89 year old man seeking work to escape boredom, he is now due to start work at a cafe after the owners of a family-run business spotted his request.

This is a timely reminder that isolation and loneliness can have huge impacts on people’s health – especially older people.

War veteran Joe Bartley,  placed an advert in a local paper: “Senior citizen, 89, seeks employment in Paignton area. 20hrs+ per week. Still able to clean, light gardening, DIY and anything. I have references. Old soldier, airborne forces. Save me from dying of boredom!”

Joe said he had lived alone since his wife died two years ago, and had been lonely. According the Guardian interview “When you live on your own there is no one to speak to. Since she died I’ve moved into a flat and it’s a big block. Once you walk into that flat it’s like solitary confinement.”

This time last year, John Lewis’s Christmas campaign focussed on loneliness ‘Show someone they’re loved this Christmas”, and this story serves as a timely reminder to check on friends, relatives and neighbours.

The Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) works closely with the NHS to identify vulnerable people aged 65 and over. One of the aspects firefighters look for when carrying out home safety checks is isolation and loneliness.

As well as fitting handrails, or fixing hazards, firefighters also looking for issues such as loneliness and fuel poverty. This could lead to people being signposted to services and organisations which could offer help and support, and ensuring the relevant organisations are informed about people who may be struggling.

Health Minister Jeremy Hunt has previously praised the work of fire and rescue services and the partnership work with NHS, helping to reduce pressure on services in the future.

NHS England, Public Health England, the Fire and Rescue Service, Age UK and the Local Government Association have a consensus statement which sets out how the organisations will work together to encourage local action and minimise service demand, while improving the quality of life of people with long-term conditions.

It means fire services across the country will aim to carry out more ‘Safe and Well’ checks in people’s homes when they visit. By extending the 670,000 home safety checks carried out each year into a ‘Safe and Well visits’, this will help vulnerable people and those with complex conditions.

When the consensus statement was launched, Simon Stevens, NHS England Chief Executive officer said: “By preventing issues such as falls and broken hips we are also reducing A&E visits, isolation and depression and by spotting social issues earlier we can help people to stay in their own homes for longer.”

In Greater Manchester for example, firefighters form a Community Risk Intervention Team to provide a multifaceted response to keep people safe in their homes, reducing demand on ambulance services and facilitate early discharge from hospital.