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.


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 www.registermyappliance.org.uk 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 http://www.registermyappliance.org.uk/registration/and 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

New Year Honours -the people and the work recognised

Each year the New Year’s Honour list recognises the work of individuals who have made achievements in public life and committed themselves to serving and helping across the United Kingdom.

Once again in 2017 some of those recognised for their work were from UK fire and rescue services. A little more detail is in this blog about those that received awards and their work.

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

Dr Brian Ward, Head, National Resilience Assurance Team. Brian’s award was for services to the Fire and Rescue Service and National Resilience. He recently retired from West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS).

Dr Ward began his career with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) 25 years ago, before moving on to an appointment as Regional Emergency Planning Manager, being seconded into National Resilience. His role has involved planning the response for national disasters and major incidents.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer, Simon Pilling, said:

“Brian has been an outstanding officer both during his time as Chief Emergency Planning Officer in West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service as well as becoming the National Resilience Officer heading national teams engaged in the provision of specialist emergency response capabilities, including urban search and rescue for collapsed structures and high volume pumping for flooding events. Brian attended the major explosion and fire at Buncefield, Hertfordshire in 2005 to coordinate water supplies feeding the massive foam attack necessary to extinguish the conflagration.

Brian’s commitment to national resilience and emergency response has been exemplary and I’m delighted to see him rewarded for his dedication to public safety. I wish him well in his retirement.”
Awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)

Robin Iffla, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Board Member. For services to equality & community cohesion in Scotland. Robin was appointed  lead trainer for Central Scotland Police in 2001 and was also seconded to various authorities and partner agencies. Robin now advises the public sector throughout Scotland and the UK on Diversity Awareness through his own company as well as being on SFRS board.

Donna Finch, Community Development and Safeguarding Manager, Essex Fire and Rescue Service received the award for services to Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults in the community. Donna has been with the Service since 2004. In her role, she manages the Service’s Firebreak programmes, the school’s education programme, Essex Fire Cadets, the juvenile fire-setter scheme, the Duke of Edinburgh national licence for the Chief Fire Officer Association (CFOA) and is Safeguarding Manager for Children and Adults. One of the most successful programmes has been the work with children with Down’s Syndrome in partnership with charity Downs Syndrome Extra 21. Earlier this year, that work was recognised with ECFRS being awarded a World Down Syndrome Award from Down Syndrome International. This Firebreak programme is now delivered in Australia and America.

Medallist of the Order of the British Empire (BEM)

Peter Clarke, London Fire Brigade. For services to the community in Croydon through the Crossfire Team. Peter’s award recognises his work creating “Crossfire”, a multi agency community engagement project designed to reduce hoax calling, deliberate fires and anti-social behaviour (ASB), through education and direct partnership working. Set up 13 years ago, predominantly to tackle the high number of hoax calls and non-accidental fires in the borough of Croydon, the project is currently working in partnership with around 25 agencies and is being rolled out into other London boroughs.

Peter served as a firefighter for 30 years at New Addington fire station, he retired but now works for the Brigade’s Education team on the “Crossfire” project.  Peter has raised over £500,000 in funding since the project’s inception, in order to sustain the project financially.

Peter from Croydon, said: “I’m completely shocked, it’s very humbling to receive this award.  It’s a feather in the cap for the project as a whole and everybody who has been involved with it.  I feel very proud. The project started because fire engines kept getting attacked and something needed to be done.  It’s really nice to be publicly acknowledged for what I’ve achieved.”
Simon Jakeman Firefighter, London Fire Brigade. For services to Sustainability and Energy Efficiency in the London Fire Brigade. Over the past year Simon has been encouraging all 412 watches in the Brigade, to embrace environmentally-friendly policies in the workplace. He joined Surrey Fire and Rescue service in 1995 and transferred to the London Fire Brigade in 2007 and has served at Surbiton fire station for eight years.

Simon from Chessington, said: “I am totally amazed. In fact, lost for words and feel really honoured to be recognised for my green work in the New Year’s Honours List. I’m just doing my bit.  To think this all started with one tomato plant in a fire bucket on a fire station roof!”

Prithipal Singh Kang. For services to Fire and Rescue – Fire Awareness and Community Cohesion in North Kent. Prithipal joined Kent Fire & Rescue Service in 1985 as a Community Liaison Officer – the first person appointed to this post in the country. Initially his role focussed on fire safety but he also worked to promote recruitment amongst ethnic minority groups and women to the fire service in Kent. He mainly achieved this by visiting and building relationships with places of worship and businesses.

Prithipal said of his award “I would like to say thanks to the KFRS personnel for their encouragement and support over so many years.  I would also like to say thanks to the people of Kent and of course my family.”
Awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal for distinguished service (QFSM)

This award is for members of fire services for the exhibition of conspicuous devotion to duty. Some of the fire service personnel awarded this in 2017 New Year’s Honours were 

Alex Bennett, lately, Chief Fire Officer (Retired July 2016) Northumberland Fire & Rescue Service spent 32 years in the fire service. He began his career at Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service in the 1980’s  where he spent 18 years. He moved  to Northumberland in 2002, serving a number of roles before becoming Chief Fire Officer in January 2012. Northumberland County Council chief executive Steven Mason said: “Alex led the fire service through challenging times, and this has now been properly rewarded.

“We would like congratulate him on his Queen’s Fire Service medal and thank him for all of his hard work in the county.  There is no-one who is more deserving of this medal.”

Trevor McIlwaine, Group Manager, Leicestershire Fire & Rescue Service began his career as a firefighter at West Midlands Fire Service, joining Leicestershire in 1998 as a Station Manager. He became a group Manager in 2008 with responsibility for both community safety activity technical fire safety across Leicestershire and Rutland.

Jason Thelwell, Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service since early 2015 joined Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service as Assistant Chief Fire Officer in 2010 after 17 years with Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service.

Jason Thelwell 

Jason said: “It is truly a great honour to receive this recognition, but my congratulations must go to our staff. I am immensely proud to work with some of the most talented and hard-working public servants in the country, who work tirelessly in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes to save lives every day. They all contribute to making this one of the safest places in England, and I want to thank them publicly for what they do. This award is dedicated to them all.”
Christopher Davies, Chief Fire Officer, Mid & West Wales Fire & Rescue Service. Chris joined South Glamorgan Fire Service in 1984 and after serving as a firefighter and an officer he secured a secondment to the Fire Service College in 1996 to spend three years as Assistant Divisional Officer in the Command and Management Faculty. A further secondment later followed as part of the Governments New Dimension project which gave him responsibility for the implementation of the National Resilience programme for Wales.

He also undertook the roles of Deputy Divisional Commander and Head of Community Safety, before he joined Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service in 2008 as Corporate Head of Community Risk Reduction. He was promoted to the role of Assistant Chief Fire Officer in 2011. He was appointed Chief Fire Officer for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service in 2014.

Christopher Davies

Chris said of receiving his award “I have served 32 years in the Fire and Rescue Service and enjoyed every minute of my time, to be recognised in this way is truly humbling and I would like to thank everyone who has worked with me during my career.”
Ian Bell, Watch Manager, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. Ian joined the fire service in 1989, and has served in a number of fire stations across Glasgow and the West of Scotland. He has risen through the ranks and held supervisory management positions and taken command of many significant operational incidents.

In addition to his day job, Ian has invested a huge amount of his personal time in two very worthy organisations – the SFRS Burns Club and SFRS Pipe Band.

The SFRS Burns Club aims to raise the profile of Scotland’s national poet by raising funds for a variety of charitable causes. In the years that Ian has operated as event organiser, the supper has raised in excess of £20,000 for charity.

Ian also dedicates time to the SFRS Pipe Band and has developed a youth band.  He has led the development of the band for a number of years and has invested a significant amount of his own personal time in ensuring that the youth band provides young, aspiring musicians with an opportunity to develop their musical talents in a safe and supportive environment.

Parliament talks drowning prevention

A one-off oral evidence session was held in Parliament by the Transport Committee on 5 December 2016. The sessions aim was to scrutinise the structure and coordination of organisations that work to prevent and respond to emergency incidents around the coastline.

It also asked questions around the issues of beach safety, and the responsibilities of beach owners and managers in ensuring the safety of the public in the light of a spate of tragic accidents at a number of locations in summer 2016.

The Chief Fire Officers Association’s Water Lead, Dawn Whittaker, was one of those invited to give evidence.

It was an excellent opportunity for CFOA and members of the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) to highlight the collaborative work that is undertaken to prevent drowning and also to raise awareness with politicians of the UK National Drowning Prevention Strategy. The strategy was launched in February 2016 and has an overarching aim of achieving a 50% reduction in accidental drownings in the UK by 2026. In real terms this means reducing the number of accidental drownings from approximately 400 per annum to 200.
CFOA_Water Safety Poster_DOG

The session also highlighted wider issues relating to drowning including the significant issue of drowning on inland waterways which accounts for around two thirds of fatalities. Furthermore, the impact of non – fatal drowning events are significant and as Dawn Whittaker mentioned these lead to serious and life changing injuries for up to eight times as many people as fatal drowning events.

NWSF members also met last week with the Local Government Association (LGA). They are the supporting association for politicians working in local government. Again this is a crucial link to develop in order to help raise awareness of the drowning issue amongst local councils.

It is hoped that by speaking to the LGA and raising awareness, local councils will be encouraged to take positive action to help prevent drownings as part of their duty of care. Councils would be encouraged to undertake risk assessments. Data which is collated and held on the WAter Incident Database (WAID) and the expertise of the NWSF can be drawn upon and be used to inform communities of their local level risk.

A meeting with Transport Minister, the Rt. Hon John Hayes CBE, also ensured that Ministerial support for the Drowning Prevention Strategy would continue and would he would further engage with other ministers to widen that support.

Of course underpinning this awareness is a real need for education around water safety. Beckie Ramsay campaigns for drowning prevention as part of the Doing it for Dylan campaign which she set up after the loss of her son in 2011. Beckie also works as a volunteer safety advocate for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and has supported many other fire and rescue services with local campaigns and events. She welcomed the parliamentary session and was able to submit some written evidence, this is important as we must not forget these are not just numbers – they are people. If we educate children now and in the future, as we do with regard to road and fire safety this may be an important step in reducing the number of drownings. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/168941

Take Brake’s Pledge and Make Roads Safer

This week is Road Safety Week (21-27 November) and CFOA, along with fire and rescue services throughout the UK, will be supporting the key messages of this campaign in order to help prevent road deaths and injuries.

The week was introduced in 1997 and is coordinated by Brake and is the UK’s biggest road safety event. It exists to help stop the five deaths and 62 serious injuries that happen everyday on UK roads.

It’s a simple ask – change our driving behaviour and help to make UK roads safer. Sign up and share Brake’s Pledge online.

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Brake have outlined the six elements of the Brake Pledge for Road Safety Week 2016  which are are Slow, Sober, Secure, Silent, Sharp and Sustainable.

  • Slow:Breaking the speed limit or travelling too fast for the conditions is recorded by police at crash scenes as a contributory factor in more than one in four (27%) fatal crashes in Great Britain [1].
  • Sober:Having even one drink before getting behind the wheel can affect your ability to drive. In 2013 one in 10 (11%) drivers/motorcycle riders killed in a crash had alcohol present in their body, even though they weren’t over the legal blood-alcohol limit [2]. One in seven road deaths are at the hands of someone who has driven while over the limit [3].
  • Secure:Seat belts are still seen as an inconvenience by some drivers, yet using one reduces the chance of dying in a crash by 50% [4]. 21% of car occupants killed in crashes were not wearing a seat belt [5].
  • Silent:Drivers who perform a complex secondary task, like using a mobile, while at the wheel are three times more likely to crash than non-distracted drivers [6].
  • Sharp:Booking in for a regular eye test should be at the top of any driver’s to-do list. Road crashes caused by poor driver vision are estimated to cause 2,900 casualties and cost £33 million in the UK per year [7].
  • Sustainable:By minimising the amount we drive, and walking, cycling or using public transport instead, we are making our communities safer places, and doing the best we can for the environment and our individual health. Air pollution is a major killer: there are an estimated 29,000 deaths per year from particulate matter pollution in the UK [8], 5,000 of which are attributable to road transport [9].

Look out for events and activities for National Road Safety Week from your own local fire and rescue service. Types of activities range from leaflet drops and talks in schools on cycling safety to driving advice for winter. Look out for #RoadSafetyWeek and #BrakePledge on social media and help spread the word.

For more information about being safe on the roads whether you are a driver, passenger, pedestrian or cyclist please visit http://www.roadsafetyweek.org.uk/

[1] Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2014, Department for Transport, 2015, table RAS50001
[2] Statistical data set: Reported drinking and driving (RAS51), Department for Transport, 2014, table RAS51007
[3] Provisional estimate for 2014, fromReported road casualties Great Britain: Estimates for accidents involving illegal alcohol levels: 2014 (second provisional), Department for Transport, February 2016
[4] The impact of driver inattention on near-crash/crash risk, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2006
[5] Oral evidence: Road traffic law enforcement, HC 518, Transport Select Committee, 7 December 2015
[6] The Impact of Driver Inattention On Near-Crash/Crash Risk: An Analysis Using the 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study Data, US Department of Transportation, 2006
[7] Fit to Drive: a cost benefit analysis of more frequent eyesight testing for UK drivers, RSA Insurance Group plc, 2012
[8] Estimating Local Mortality Burdens associated with Particulate Air Pollution, Public Health England, 2014
[9] Steve H. L. Yim and Steven R. H. Barrett, “Public Health Impacts of Combustion Emissions in the United Kingdom”, Environmental Science & Technology 2012 46 (8), 4291-4296

Blue Light Infoline Awareness


This week is CFOA is supporting Blue Light Infoline Awareness Week. The campaign aims to promote the infoline service which is available to those that volunteer and work for the emergency service. The service is part of the Blue Light Programme which was launched by Mind in March 2015. The infoline is able to offer advice and signpost people to help if they need it.

In the first year evaluation of the Blue Light Programme it was apparent that although there was a high awareness of mental health problems among blue light personnel, less than a third were aware of the Blue Light Infoline and this was the single greatest reason for people not having accessed it.

CFOA are actively encouraging fire services to continue to promote the infoline in their workforce. Something as simple as displaying the artwork available on staff notice boards, providing information in internal newsletters or making sure new starters have the information can be useful. Mind found that 79% or respondents to the Blue Light evaluation said they would ‘never’ seek help from HR if they experienced a mental health problem.

Mind’s research shows that nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of emergency service staff and volunteers had contemplated leaving their job or voluntary role because of stress or poor mental health. Those numbers can be changed and just one way of making that change can be accessing this confidential support.

If you work in the emergency services (paid or voluntary) visit Mind’s website and make sure your organisation is supporting the six easy steps to raise awareness.


A safe Hallowe’en doesn’t have to be a nightmare

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service demonstrated how easily a high street skeleton costume can ignite

Hallowe’en celebrations have changed considerably over the last few years. The dressing up and having a spooky time is a lot of fun so to make sure you stay safe take a look at some advice from CFOA.

Trick or Treating

Although it is fun to dress up and go out ‘trick or treating’ remember for many people the sight of groups dressed up and knocking on doors during the evening can be intimidating

  • Make sure children are accompanied by adults
  • Make sure your group has plenty of torches so you can see clearly and be seen
  • If a house is not obviously decorated for Hallowe’en it’s probably best not to knock on the door – at the least it can be annoying, at worst people can be frightened
  • Don’t play tricks – damaging property or throwing eggs is a criminal offence

If you have older or vulnerable friends or neighbours ask them how they feel about Hallowe’en.  Would they want some company or to join in your own celebrations rather than staying in? If you don’t want people to knock at your home a polite notice may deter people from knocking.

Dressing Up

Many people enjoy dressing up for Hallowe’en. CFOA is campaigning to raise awareness of the potential dangers of fancy dress costumes. Under current legislation these items are classed as toys but CFOA believes their safety could be improved if they we reclassified as children’s nightwear which undergoes stricter flammability testing.

Although in 2015 this issue was highlighted when TV presenter Claudia Winkleman spoke about  an incident when her daughter suffered burns after her supermarket bought costume caught light, the actual legislation has not changed. Some retailers have made a pledge to ensure their costumes undergo stricter testing which is something CFOA welcomed. But, parents should be aware that this is not the case for all high street retailers.

In order to make costumes as safe as they can be for now CFOA suggests

  • Don’t use candles. LED lights with the appropriate kite mark are safe and look out for naked flames in pumpkins on other people’s property
  • Avoid trailing costumes and make sure they are not too long for children
  • Try and do you research – some retailers have opted to make sure their Hallowe’en costumes undergo the same testing as children’s nightwear
  • Buy from a reputable retailer, this should avoid you ending up with something that should not even be sold in the UK
  • Don’t given children sparklers to hold when they are in fancy dress and adults should be careful with cigarettes and costumes

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue service produced the following film to illustrate just how easily a costume can ignite when exposed to a flame

Make sure your children know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothes catch fire. Take a look at Cheshire Fire and Rescue’s advice http://www.cheshirefire.gov.uk/news-events/webcasts/safety-campaigns/video-stop-drop-and-roll

Fire and rescue services have advice on their own websites for Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night. Take some time to have a look at your own service’s website and have a safe celebration.