Thursday, 28 March 2013


No more Toblerone and the end of Dairylea cheese as all triangular food is banned. Major manufacturers are following the lead of Castle View School in Essex who have issued an instruction to school cooks to ensure that they only bake flapjacks with at least four corners. 

In an effort to quell unrest amongst those currently auditioning for MasterChef, a Government spokesperson has said any such ban would only apply to food being sold for public consumption and that they would not be extending the ban to foods baked on private, domestic premises. An expert in Health & Safety has said that it would still be permitted to make triangular foodstuffs provided a rubber bung was securely fitted to each corner before sale. 

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the now infamous report by a local Sussex born lad, Dr, Richard Beeching, which saw the most radical shake up of the railway system ever seen.

Although brought up in Maidstone, Dr. Beeching was born in the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead and in the 1960s delivered his recommendations to Parliament that saw almost 2000 miles of railway closed down, including the Lewes to Uckfield line.

He reportedly travelled across the country to research his report, sustaining himself with mugs of British Rail team and heaps of sandwiches. Would he have been so vigorous in his report if the 'ban the triangle' movement had been about then?

British Rail sandwiches were well known for their white bread, cheddar cheese or corned beef and pickle, and most importantly, their triangular shape.

Dr. Beeching was clearly oblivious of the lethal object he was holding when he sat down to write his report and we can only be thankful he was never arrested and charged with being in possession of a dangerous weapon!

And our politicians continue to look at transport with this week's announcement that after more than 70 years of providing search and rescue, the RAF and Royal Navy will be stood down and the role handed over to the private sector. 

Bristow's will now provide search and rescue with a fleet of Sikorsky and AugustaWestland helicopters replacing the existing ageing Sea Kings. The new helicopters are faster but have a smaller carrying capacity and will be based at 10 sites around the UK including Lee on Solent and Manston. This is of keen interest to East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service as we continue to look at our Maritime response capability and the arrangements for transporting firefighters to incidents at sea.

My Week

  • Meeting with West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service to talk about the progress of the Sussex Control Centre. Due to open in March 2014 the project is on target. Also we are continuing to work on joint training initiatives and we would hope to be doing more joint training with West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service.
  • Called in at Preston Circus and Lewes to have a chat with staff. Good opportunity to listen to the views of Junior Officers although noticed that when offered a cup of tea, both stations went out of their way to find a Spurs and Arsenal mug, but just like trophies at White Hart Lane and the Emirates, they couldn't find any! 
  • Team meeting with Principal Officers to consider the Audit Plan prepared by Ernst & Young, proposals for the new Newhaven Community Fire Station and the opportunity for premises sharing with Lewes District Council and an internal auditors report which will be considered by the Fire Authority.
  • Met with a recruitment agency, who are working with the public sector to provide interim managers - useful discussion on one level although I sometimes feel that these organisations get more out of my time than I get from them.
  • Had a discussion with our occupational health service provider to find out how they think the service is working and what other services we could contract in. Discussed how we could improve health monitoring to improve long term well-being.
  • Met with colleagues to look at the proposals for what type of Fire & Rescue Service we may have in the future moving away from local authorities and creating a mutual. Some concerns have been expressed as this could lead to privatisation of the Service although the Fire Minister has said it was not his intention to privatise the Service. Also looked at a new pilot scheme for fire safety where one Fire Authority becomes the 'primary authority' for national companies.
  • Attended a meeting to look at how we can work with the Fire Service College, which will have to be re-branded as the new private sector owners can't use the existing Crown insignia. Also discussed implications of employee pension increases, peer review of Fire & Rescue Services and the new fire professional framework that will support operational competence for firefighters.
  • Discussed our proposals for Newhaven with the Chairman and whether we could build a facility to meet our needs and those of Lewes District Council. Said goodbye to a number of our staff who are leaving this month offering our very best wishes for their future and thanking them for the great service they have given to East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service.
  • Spent some time looking at the draft report from our new auditors. I can see the different approach Ernst & Young are taking from the Audit Commission, it's an interesting time now working with private sector auditors and their approach to scrutiny.
  • Working with Matt on a presentation I am making at a national Health & Safety conference. This is about my personal experiences at Marlie Farm during and post the incident.
  •  Discussed the outcome of the European Commission's recent publication on the outcome of consultation on the Working Time Directive. There has been no agreement between social partners and therefore the Commission will need to bring forward new proposals on working time including whether to continue with an individual member state opt-out.

This week firefighters from Lewes were called out to an incident in Ringmer where a car had collided with a parked vehicle. Crews released one female casualty and made the scene safe as there had been damage caused to mains electricity and domestic gas supplies. 

Firefighters from Crowborough and Heathfield were called out to an animal rescue in Burnt Oak where a horse had fallen and become trapped in mud. Crews working with a local vet used the Unimog to lift the horse which was then assisted to a safe area.

Seaford crews attended a house fire in Jevington Drive, having to commit four firefighters in breathing apparatus to fight the fire which was contained to the first floor.

And on Tuesday afternoon, Hastings firefighters responded to a fire at the Victoria Tyre Centre, where they committed breathing apparatus wearers with hose reel jets to fight the fire. One male casualty was injured in the fire and was transferred to hospital by Ambulance. A further casualty was then later transferred to hospital. Crews used a Positive Pressure Ventilation fan to clear smoke from the premises. 

Uckfield firefighters are organising a ‘fun and safety day’ next week and are working with Wealden District Council to put on a great event for their local community at the fire station. Any of our staff are welcome to volunteer to help at what should be a fantastic day out. The crews are hoping to see a similar turnout to last year when over 700 people visited the fire station.