Friday, 8 March 2013

One of the real benefits of modern technology is being able to keep in touch with family and friends when you are away from home, the office or on leave.

For those who have to be away you can continue to work; for me it is important to be able to be in contact with work wherever I am and for staff to be able to reach me.

The current court case has I know been extremely difficult for many of our staff, ex-employees and of course the families who have suffered loss of their loved ones. I have been in regular contact with my management team who keep me updated of any developments that need attention. I have also been speaking every day to Deputy Chief Fire Officer Gary Walsh and other members of staff, who have been in London at the Marlie Farm Trial. Gary has updated me on a daily basis and Gary has been supporting staff who have had to attend the hearing in London. I have also been liaising with Mark Matthews to see how the other members of our staff and the families are coping with this very testing and challenging time.

Everywhere I look I can see people on their mobile devices and have we now let this technology become too intrusive. How often do you see a group of people out together and then you will find them on their mobile phones, not talking to each other but keeping in touch with other friends. I must admit there is one aspect of having a mobile phone that I find particularly rude and discourteous, and that is when you are having a meeting at work and other people attending the meeting are spending time on their phones; why do they think they are so important.

I know many of you are Twitter users and on Facebook and other social networking sites. They are brilliant communication tools but there is a lot of drivel too; why anyone needs to tell their friends that they have just washed their hair or have just dunked a jammy dodger in their coffee I'll never know.

However, I do believe we can make use of social media to help get across community safety messages and also to let people know when roads are closed and provide other public information. It may be the time for us to look at developing our own App, it would be brilliant if we could create an ESFRS community safety App that we could issue free of charge, that should be our future ambition.

Strangely enough I can get a better phone signal on Mt. Blanc than I can across most of Sussex, which can be both a blessing and a burden. But is it really good to be 'in touch' all of the time and have we lost the art of relaxing? As I'm some 8000 ft up near Mt. Blanc, I am having fun talking and texting to my son who should have been skiing with me, but with his final exams coming up at University, he has other priorities.
I see Batman left Gotham City this week to bring justice to the streets of Bradford; so if you were going to do your good deed, which superhero would you dress up as? My choice would be between Danger Mouse or Buzz Lightyear, both noble and fearless, with strong jaw lines and perfect diction!

We managed to find a TV out in a local French bar to watch the Manchester United versus Real Madrid match. Oh dear, poor old Sir Alec complaining about a poor refereeing decision, let’s face it, you got beat, and what about all the dodgy decisions that have gone United’s way over the years. Remember Moscow when Chelsea should have won the Champions League but were down to ten players after Drogba got sent off in a dodgy decision, no complaints from Ferguson then!

My week:
  • Met with colleagues to consider how we should respond to the current debate on creating a Fire & Rescue Service mutual, moving away from the current local authority Fire Rescue Service. There has also been debate on privatisation, which has sparked a lot of discussion, and it will be interesting to see the outcome of the review currently being undertaken by Sir Ken Knight. Attended a monthly Corporate Management Team meeting at headquarters, where we considered the future of Community Fire Safety (CFS) initiatives, including LIFE and Coaching for a Safer Community. With funding from other partners being removed, or reduced, we will continue to support for the coming year as we have a budget set aside for these excellent programmes, although we must look at new and different ways of delivering these initiatives to ensure we can afford them.
  • We agreed the key capital programme projects for the medium term and trying to ensure we have sustainable funding for buildings and appliances. The Newhaven project is on target and we are having final discussions with other partners who may want to be part of a new building. The new build and refurbishment at Crowborough is on budget.
  • Meeting with the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) at headquarters to discuss a number of issues regarding budget pressures and that we would want to engage with the FBU and other trade unions, when we have some proposals for consideration. Also, discussed the continuing support we will be offering to our staff involved in the Marlie Farm court case which will continue into a second week.
  • Discussed with colleagues the recent announcement that Norths Fire Rescue Service will be sharing an HQ and workshops with their local Police Force and that the Chief Fire Officer of Hertfordshire will also be performing the role of Chief Executive to the Police & Crime Commissioner for two days a week. The Government is keen to see closer working between emergency services with the ESFRS response to Sir Ken Knight's review mentioning our proposal for merger with West Sussex Fire Rescue Service.
  • The team are making final preparations for the LGA Fire Conference in Brighton next week, with the Fire Minister due to attend. East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service will be promoting some of our CFS activities and hopefully will also be promoting blood and organ donations. I know I have mentioned this before but the more I work with colleagues in the NHS the more I see how vital it is that we all try and donate blood if we can and also carry organ donation cards or go onto the organ donation register, not everyone can do this but organ donation can make so much difference to the lives of others.
Crews from Bohemia Road and The Ridge responded to an incident in St. Leonards early on Sunday morning where a fire had started in a house of multiple occupancy. Eight people had managed to escape the building but firefighters had to force entry to one flat where they rescued male casualty. Crews extinguished the fire and used a Positive Pressure Ventilation Fan to remove smoke from the building. The benefits of smoke alarms were highlighted when a neighbour heard a smoke alarm operating in a next door property. Crews from Seaford responded on the initial attendance but there were a number of repeat calls and therefore Mobilising & Communications Centre increased the pre-determined attendance (PDA).

With a 'make-up' from the Incident Commander pumps from Eastbourne and Hailsham were mobilised to the incident in Alfriston, as it was a 'persons reported' incident but fortunately there was no one in the building. Crews found a well-established fire in the basement which caused serious damage to the property. C01 was also in attendance for command purposes. Crews from Lewes and Brighton supported by the Technical Rescue Unit (TRU) from Battle responded to a road traffic collision (RTC) involving two cars and a bus on the Offham Road. Firefighters found one male casualty trapped with crews having to use hydraulic cutting equipment to remove the doors and the roof to enable them to free the casualty who was then transferred to hospital.

Firefighters from across ESFRS are supporting a new video as part of the 'Fire Kills' campaign to test their smoke alarms and to test them regularly and, if necessary, to change the batteries when they change their clocks. There is absolutely no doubt that working smoke alarms save lives, but despite all the efforts ESFRS and other Services have put in over the past decade to either fit smoke alarms, work with housing associations to fit their own smoke alarms or encourage householders to buy smoke alarms, there are still too many properties that do not have them.

ESFRS also asks for carers, friends and families to check to see if there are properties that need smoke alarms and to contact ESFRS. Check this out on youtube. We are also working nationally to continue to lobby Government and the building industry to promote the fitting of sprinklers in the built environment, as part of our safe and sustainable communities’ strategy.