Autumn Conference Day Two roundup

After a fantastic first day which saw our new President, Paul Hancock, take up the Presidential chain from Peter Dartford, day two of the CFOA AGM and Autumn Conference was a chance to hear from a number of national and international speakers on issues of leadership, devolution and collaboration.

First up was Chris Addiers, President of the FEU (Federation of the European Union Fire Officer Associations) and Chief Fire Officer of the Antwerp Fire Brigade, who delivered a fascinating presentation on the recent reform of Belgian Fire and Rescue Services. Belgium has transitioned from dozens of small, municipal services to a much smaller number of regional brigades, and unlike the English FRS, is likely to see the federal (or central government) portion of its budget increase over the coming years, as less is funded from local taxation. Fire services already provide 75% of EMS cover in Belgium and steps are being taken to improve collaboration with police; half of their control centres are already tri-service.

Chris also gave an update on the work of the FEU, which remains keen to improve relationships with partner organisations and policy makers and improve project management in the coming years. It will increasingly move its focus to the emerging trend for collaboration and integration with other partners, and area in which Chris thinks the UK is already leading the way.


Our next speaker was Ida Texell (pictured) from the Attunda Fire and Rescue Service in Sweden. Ida is one of Sweden’s first female fire chiefs and trained as a fire engineer before joining the fire and rescue service in the 1990’s. She gave powerful and energetic presentation, which included an overview of the Swedish fire and rescue service and her own journey to the position of Chief, before discussing leadership and the need to consider drivers for change. Ida challenged members to think and act differently and in a radical way, and to “replace fear of the unknown with curiosity”.

We were then very pleased to be joined by Chief Larry Few, Immediate Past President of of the IAFC Metro Chiefs and Chief Fire Officer of Fulton County, GA. Larry discussed some of the differences between US and UK fire and rescue services and their organisation, and the much more local approach taken by American services. He also discussed his own positive relationships with local government and his local police force, and encouraged CFOA members to break down the barriers that are blocking collaborative efforts.


For our afternoon session we were joined by Ed Cox, Director of IPPR North, David Parr, Chief Exec of Halton Borough Council (pictured) and Cllr David Acton of Greater Manchester Fire Authority to consider the UK context of devolution and localisation, and how it might effect fire.

Ed Cox outlined all the work that IPPR North had done on devolution and their report “Decentralisation Decade“, which sets out how they think true devolution and economic growth can be delivered. He focused on some of the key drivers of local prosperity, including skills, innovation and institutions, as well as infrastructure – which he believes is sometimes the focus at the expense of the others. Ed also looked at some of the pitfalls, and some of the complexity and risks that devolution would bring, particularly to those areas that aren’t coterminous or lack the political will.

David Parr gave an overview of Halton’s efforts to be involved with devolution in the Liverpool City region, and the challenges posed by their position in Cheshire, with a separate police and fire service. He discussed the many complexities posed by the mixed political and geographical picture for the Liverpool city region, and compared many of the difficulties they were likely to face to the relative ease with which the Manchester region were progressing their devolution proposals.

Our final speaker, Cllr David Acton, gave a fire and rescue service view of the “Devo Manc” changes, which will see the elected Mayor take control of fire and rescue alongside a wide range of other services. Manchester has already been working across ten different authorities for many years, which has made them a prime candidate for bold devolution plans. He also outlined his own opposition to the idea of merging fire and rescue services with Police and Crime Commissioners, which is being proposed in a recent Home Office consultation.


CFOA Welcomes New President and Autumn Conference Day One

CFOA is pleased to announce that Paul Hancock, Chief Fire Officer, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service (FRS), has taken on the role of CFOA President at this year’s AGM.

_DSC8517Paul, pictured with former President Peter Dartford, Chief Fire Officer of Staffordshire FRS, will lead CFOA as President until September 2016.

When installed as President, Paul told members ‘I’m extremely proud and indeed honoured to be taking up the role of President of the Association. It is an important leadership role and one which represents our membership  and proactively promotes the role and work of the Fire and Rescue Service.’

Following the AGM, Peter Dartford returned to the stage with Adam Harrod from ITN Productions to launch ‘Beyond Blue Lights’, an in-depth, online programme aimed at the fire and rescue service sector which explores the scope of the fire service and the ways in which it can be utilised even further, raise awareness about fire safety, and discuss the impact of effective data sharing on response times and outcomes. The full programme will be available on the CFOA website shortly.

Vice-President Dave Etheridge and CFOA’s four strategic directors then explained to delegates how the Association’s programme of work will contribute to achieving the ‘CFOA Will’ statements set out in our strategy document ‘Making the Difference Needed’.

Delegates also heard updates from CFOA National Resilience, the Members’ Sounding Board and the Fire Fighters Charity as well as Platinum Associate Members – Airwave, PBI Performance Products and Ballyclare before being joined by Adrian Thomas, who spoke about his forthcoming review of culture, values and barriers to change in the terms and conditions of the fire and rescue service.

The final session of the day saw President Paul Hancock deliver his address to the Members present following an address by Fire Minister Mark Francois MP, delivered via video. This was followed by a discussion amongst members on the government’s recently released consultation on emergency services collaboration.

CFOA Board
CFOA Board 2015-16 – PPRS Director Lewis Ramsay, Vice President Elect Andy Fry, POD Director Ann Millington, President Paul Hancock, CSSI Director Geoff Howsego, Vice President Dave Etheridge, Operations Director Roy Wilsher

Incident Command Conference – Day Two

For the final day of our Incident Command Conference, we were joined by a number of specialist experts looking at command and leadership in a range of contexts.

Robert Herring, a performance coach currently working with the Army, talked delegates through how decisions are made under pressure and how an individual can become more resilient and improve their situational awareness through techniques such as Mindfulness-Based Mind Fitness Training.

Andrew St George and Sharon Curry used examples from the Royal Navy’s leadership framework, written by Andrew, and the research which has taken place during the Antarctic Endurance 2016 programme, to illustrate the role, importance and necessity of leadership in a command context. During their presentation to the conference, they emphasised how culture, personal qualities and the ethos of the organisation combine to impact on the leadership behaviour of an individual.

Professor Jonathan Crego, creator and owner of the Minerva and Hydra Strategic Management Simulation Systems, presented delegates with a number of videos and scenarios to encourage debate around the term ‘decision making’. Jonathan also examined the use of ‘consequence choosing’ as an alternative term.

Our final speaker, CFOA Director of Operations, Roy Wilsher, outlined ‘Our Role in Shaping Tomorrow’s Commanders’ and reinforced the importance of Incident Command both during incidents and in upholding the reputation of the Fire and Rescue Service. Roy also discussed the value of investing in relevant and realistic training and highlighted a number of key areas which will be considered by CFOA to progress work in this area further.

We’d like to thank all speakers and delegates who joined us for this conference and Stratford. The presentations will be made available via soon.

Incident Command Conference – Day One

This week, the National Operational Guidance Programme (NOGP), issued the latest guidance document for the UK Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) on Incident Command. To coincide with the publication, CFOA is hosting an Incident Command conference with 100 representatives from 37 FRSs in attendance.

Conference Chair, Simon Pilling, CFOA Operational Effectiveness Lead and Chief Fire Officer of West Yorkshire FRS, set the scene for the day and thanked all those involved in the production of the guidance, with particular reference to today’s speakers, the CFOA National Operations Committee and the NOGP team.

John Baines, Tyne and Wear FRS, led the afternoon’s presentations providing an overview of the review and the guidance that followed. This review sought to focus on an ‘all hazards’ approach to command, an approach which is a unique preserve of the UK FRS, and to promoting assertive, effective and safe incident command. John outlined the key issues in this guidance which differ from the models and thinking applied in previous editions and discussed what this means practically for FRSs.

Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, London Fire Brigade, then presented her research to the conference. The research, which informed the production of the guidance, is the first of its kind in the UK on the psychology of command and was developed after analysing the decision making processes of Incident Commanders in six FRSs.

Andy Bowers, Hampshire FRS, discussed the concept of ‘Operational Discretion’ and how this way of thinking enables Incident Commanders to make decisions which keep firefighters and the public safe, during incidents which require a more flexible approach.

Finally, Dr Michael Humann provided an overview of the work of the research team of the Centre for Critical and Major Incident Psychology at the University of Liverpool, with particular reference to the Joint Endeavour exercise. The exercise, held last September in Merseyside, gave the team an opportunity to research the decision making process in a multi-agency environment.

Nepal deployment: conference hears about UKISAR’s role

The recent Nepal earthquake saw a number of UK fire and rescue staff deployed to assist in the search and rescue efforts.

Dave Ramscar gave an overview of the work and the outcomes of the deployment. he also told the conference that there has been more than150 aftershocks since the initial earthquake in April.

UKISAR works with DFID and other government departments  to assist with international search and rescue work. It is made up of a number of services across the country and provides a self sufficient heavy response service, which means the team is not a burden on the host country. 
More than 2.8 million people were displaced and is the largest natural disaster ever recorded in Nepal. There were four teams sent as part of the rescue effort, along with four dogs. UKISAR formed part of the United Nations plan. 

Over the following days, landing permits were being negotiated at Kathmandu airport to allow more UKISAR team members into the country to assist with the work. 

They set up at the British Embassy, which included pitching a number of tents there! He talked delegates through how the search is set up in different sectors, while also doing structural assessments of buildings to assess them and to see if they can be made safe. This included a hospital which was reopened a short time later to assist in the recovery, which meant surgical wards and hundreds of beds were made available. 

Road conditions, land slips and aftershocks meant getting out to more remote areas was slower than the team would have liked, but once there the first aid given provided invaluable to people who had sustained injuries in the earthquake. 

Helicopters were also used to reach more remote areas which meant more help for injured people who may have been missed in the week since the earthquake happened. 

Once the rescue phase closed down, the teams then prepared to exit the country and awaited government clearance to return to the UK.

Following their return, observations and evaluation took place, including difficulties landing in Kathmandu, the ‘tourism tax’ the team were asked to pay when they arrived and ensuring all rescue teams were aware of which areas had been searched. 

It was a fascinating overview of the work which took place and highlighted the difficulties the team faced, along with the hugely positive outcomes due to UKISAR’s work. 

Summer conference day 2: Think nationally, deliver locally 

Today’s session kicked off with Dave Etheridge discussing the new CFOA strategy, designed to challenge government thinking and promote debate while showing what CFOA feels FRSs can achieve.

Made up of a number of strategic areas, Dave discussed ops guidance, successes of managing risk, advice to government of IRMP process and campaigning on fire safety and other issues. 

It was tied into the health work already taking place and also covered how CFOA would push this strategy out to a much wider audience.

 It will be discussed with the minister at a meeting with the fire minister next month and work is underway with the LGA on elements of the new strategy. 

CFOA Summer Conference – Fire as a health asset

Steve Hynes from North West Ambulance Service spoke at the CFOA Summer Conference next, in a session with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) CFO Pete O’Reilly titled ‘fire as a health asset’. Steve first looked at the national ambulance service, and then the north west regional service. He outlined the Ambulance Service’s workload and the challenges faced – and the improvements that have been made in patient outcomes through working with partners across the NHS.

Steve looked at the drivers behind change – and described how this change is taking place in Greater Manchester. He described the progress made in ensuring that patients are provided with the care they need, and the evolving role of enhanced assessment and treatment, patient management, and working more closely with GPs and community services. Steve outlined the collaboration activities that have taken place between the Ambulance Service and other blue light services, including multi-agency sites.

Pete O’Reilly looked at the journey towards the multi-agency relationships that have developed and strengthened in Greater Manchester. GMFRS’ aim is to protect and improve the quality of life of the people in Greater Manchester – in very many different ways. This has developed from early initiatives to fit smoke alarms for those in need, through to today’s NHS ‘Five Year Forward’ plan from NHS Chief Executive, Simon Stevens. Pete recognised the new financial realities that are being faced, and said that to keep firefighters and the public safe, and to reduce fire damage, the service will need to embrace, adapt, and adopt new technology, and change their approach to safety in the home and their wider community role.

GMFRS has 200 partnerships, which enable people to be referred to the fire service, and to refer those in need on to appropriate partners. Pete highlighted GMFRS’ track record in prevention  – with a 50%+ reduction in demand over 10 years. He suggested that value can be added to prevent accidental deaths in the home with work on areas such as falls and accidents, and in responding to cardiac arrests.

Pete talked about the Community Risk Intervention Team (CRIT) activity that GMFRS undertakes, involving multi-agency working. They had support for their Fire Transformation Bid to help fund this work from a huge range of partners. He described some of the case studies that the intervention teams have worked on. Relationships have been built, allowing services to know the appropriate people in other agencies to speak to about issues.

The work of Seattle Life Support Service was outlined – and the learning that can be taken from this. Pete concluded by describing how the fire service is acting as a health asset in Greater Manchester – through the CRIT teams, through being first responders, through Community Risk Reduction Teams, and through CPR training. As Strategic Health Lead for CFOA, Pete explained how this work is leading change, including through a project group that will produce principles and guidance and aim for consensus with partners.

Fire and health: Working together and leading the way at this year’s Summer Conference

Health will be leading the way at this year’s CFOA Summer Conference, with a major focus over the two-day event on how fire and health are working together to help improve the nation’s well-being.

In recent months, CFOA has been working closely with national health professionals to see how we can work more closely together to have a positive impact on prevention, use data more effectively and introduce new ways of working.

This has also included meetings with the Chief Executive of NHS England Simon Stevens, who is very positive about this work and taking it forward.

This year’s CFOA Summer conference takes place on June 24th and 25th at the Nottingham Belfry Hotel. The event starts at lunchtime and will finish at lunchtime the following day. Please visit our events website for more details and to book. Please note, this year’s event is open to all members.

A number of issues will be discussed and debated including: Partnerships for prevention, fire as a health asset, person centred care for long-term conditions and ‘Devo Manc’, which looks at the recent devolution deal in the North West. This will be of particular interest if this is introduced elsewhere and discussion will take place on how this could impact on other fire and rescue services.

Those attending will be able to explore in more detail the potential FRSs have to improve health and well-being, while gaining a unique insight about work already taking place across parts of the UK.

As well as health, CFOA will also be launching its new strategy, which will set out CFOA’s future direction and what this will mean for its members and also the wider fire and rescue service. This will include setting out the new political roadmap and a look forward to what impact this could have on the sector.

Delegates will hear a fascinating update about the recent UKISAR deployment in Nepal and our involvement in the search and rescue efforts which devastated communities in Nepal.

Those attending will hear from a wide-range of highly skilled speakers, offering a unique insight into their work and how it could fit in with work across FRSs. Speakers include: Jackie White from NHS England; Michael Brodie from Public Health England, Donna Hall from Wigan Council, Warren Heppolette, Health and Social Care Reform, Grater Manchester.

In addition, there will be a number of speakers from CFOA, including Pete O’Reilly, Paul Hancock, Dave Etheridge and Dave Ramscar. It is also a great opportunity to meet with other CFOA members to share ideas and ways of working.

To book yourself onto this year’s event, please visit our Events website. You don’t need to be a CFOA individual member to attend this year’s event.