Friday, 26 April 2013

After the tragedy the previous week at the Boston Marathon, it was great to see the success of the London event with thousands enjoying themselves in the sunshine after first paying their condolences to those tragically killed and injured in Boston. Well done to those members of EFSRS who ran in London, I am sure you will remember the experience and have raised funds for your chosen charity. And whilst the London Marathon is a race, and we must give credit to the elite runners and disabled athletes for some astonishing performances, it is the multitude of club runners, joggers or those simply raising money for a heartfelt cause who deserve the praise of armchair watchers like me. Millions of pounds are raised every year by those running for charities and I bet that thousands of pounds are lost every year by those training for the event so a win-win for everyone involved.

The other sporting story of the week (OK a begrudging well done to the red part of Manchester), was the truth that the new training regime at Liverpool means the players can't eat any red meat for 48 hours before a match. What other excuse can there possibly be for the dreadful and incomprehensible actions of Mr Luis Suarez; every decent football fan would agree that a very lengthy ban is the only appropriate sanction in this case but I already sense the excuses are being concocted to try and portray Suarez as some poor and misunderstood individual. It is also very much to the credit of Chelsea and their player Branislav Ivanovic that they are not making a fuss of this, unlike some who always play the victim.

Well enough of the sport, what about Broadchurch? Generally I'm not one to follow much on the television but thought this was a great series and I was impressed by Dr Who's portrayal of the troubled detective. I suppose if you have had to save the universe from the Daleks then an investigation in a Dorset seaside town was well within your capabilities, although my money was on the vicar! And I understand ITV have commissioned a second series so it seems like a great opportunity for Seaford to make a pitch for the location as we have higher cliffs, a stormier sea and better fish and chips.

Sad news on Wednesday and I don't know how I'll cope after hearing that JB, Aston, Oritse and Marvin of JLS are going to split up and go their separate ways but will "always remain brothers". We are unlikely ever to see such talent again and the world will be a poorer place now they have decided to pursue their own individual goals - until of course they announce their reunion tour, which I would bet will have already been scheduled as their farewell tour - Machiavelli would have been proud, the art of spin and manipulation lives long after The Prince!

My Week
 
  • Agreed the dates for the 2013/14 Executive Leadership Programme (ELP) with Warwick University - already in its fifth year, the ELP which is aimed at senior leaders, is proving to be a great success with a number of graduates having now been promoted to CFO. The ELP will be run from the Fire Service College and we are now arranging some very high quality speakers to support the academic learning from the university tutors.
 
  • I have been working with colleagues across the UK to look at the opportunities to share senior officers’ posts and management teams, which is much favoured by the Fire Minister and Secretary of State. Early indications are that this would only lead to minimal savings and that full scale mergers would be more cost effective, and deliver better outcomes for service delivery.

  • Met with other Principal Officers to monitor the Sussex Control Centre Project, to look at the emerging plan for Newhaven Fire Station and to look at overtime costs and our end of year performance - some really good news with much of our performance. Firefighters and other staff should be congratulated on driving down fires, containing fires to the room of origin, delivering Home Safety Visits (HSVs) and other Community Fire Safety (CFS) activities designed to reduce road traffic collisions (RTCs). The one area of poor performance is in sickness absence but even here there is much that staff can take credit for as the majority of staff take very little, if any, sickness absence; but as with any organisation there are always a few problem areas and these will be addressed.
 
  •  Had a meeting with senior managers to look at the progress we are making on secondary contracts and we will now discuss further with staff.

  •  Met with colleagues on the Firefit Project who are running fitness assessments at the Fire Service College. It was pleasing to see that despite pressures and misinformation from some quarters, many firefighters from across the country attended to take part in the assessments and we can now move this project forward to the next stage. I would very much like to personally thank all those firefighters from other Fire Rescues Services (FRSs) who did attend as they will have contributed significantly to firefighter safety.

  •  Went to a meeting with officers from across Government Departments and the private sector to share our views on social media and communication. The guest speaker was a senior manager from Twitter, previously worked for Google, and he talked about how the public sector could make better use of social media to give the public real time information, how the future could make this a more two way process and how organisations can make best use of these new communication technologies; there is no turning back and we need to grasp the opportunity otherwise we will be left behind.

  •  Attended the national firefighters’ pensions committee where we discussed the current proposals by Government for the new scheme design which is passing through its various stages in Parliament and is planned to come into force in 2015.

  • Met with Matt for our regular briefing where we discussed a range of issues including the L&D Conference later this week, the Irish Conference next month and to arrange a meeting with the new High Sheriff Graham Peters. We also discussed local issues and the challenge event being organised by White Watch at Eastbourne to pull a fire engine on 4th May - if anyone is interested in getting a HQ team together please contact Matt Lloyd. 
 
Firefighters from Bexhill, Hastings, Herstmonceux and Battle responded to a fire at a residential care home in Bexhill on Wednesday morning where they found a developing fire; crews managed to rescue a number of people from the building, carrying out a full search of the premises before extinguishing the blaze.

Firefighters from Preston Circus and Roedean responded to a fire in a basement flat in Kemp Town where they found smoke issuing from the premises; crews entered the flat wearing BA making sure all people were safely out and extinguished the fire using hose reels.
Crews from Hove and Preston Circus responded to an incident at a high rise premises in Hove; on arrival crews found a fire on the ground floor that they quickly put out, then used Positive Pressure Ventilation Fan (PPV) to help remove smoke from the building.

Some of our staff are in serious physical training at the moment with Hastings firefighters Chris Mepham, Gary Cairns and Roger Cragg (who retired a few years ago but was fed up playing golf and digging his allotment) preparing to swim a relay across the English Channel and back as part of a team of six, then after 42 miles in the water, provided they judge the tides right otherwise it will be a lot longer, they will cycle 32 miles to Rye and follow this with a 13 mile run to Hastings. The team are in strict training for the event which takes place later this year to raise money for a fantastic local charity known as 'Charity for Kids'. And then we have our very own superstar Ben Melton from Preston Circus who has been chosen to represent England at triathlon.

Ben will be competing in Spain in June and is training hard for the event. His reward at being selected to represent his country is a testimony to his strict training regime over the past 24 months. Good luck Ben, although I understand there is a Watch Manager at Preston Circus who is pretty nifty on a bike and would give you a good run in a road race.

Finally after 46 years’ service to ESFRS, John Message from Herstmonceux is hanging up his boots; this is an outstanding achievement and illustrates the absolute dedication of RDS staff who carry that pager strapped to their waist and respond when needed in their local community. John is having a retirement function at Herstmonceux Castle on Friday and it will be my pleasure and privilege to present John with his certificate of service and thank him for a great career serving the public.

Please note that there is a survey which closes at end of the month asking about this Blog, whether you want me to continue with it, if so do you want any changes and are there any things you would want me to include or leave out; I would very much appreciate your feedback.

Monday, 22 April 2013

The news this week about the bombings in Boston once again illustrates how vulnerable we are to the threat of such an attack.  Public places are always a soft and easy target and it would be impossible to ensure safety and security at all times.   Whilst the vast majority of people across the world want to live in harmony with their neighbours, sadly, it only takes a few to bring death and destruction to any community; all too frequently we see such atrocities in other parts of the world and we can become a bit complacent, but when it comes closer to home it makes us all feel just a bit less secure; but is this the price we pay for the freedoms and liberties we enjoy?  An alternative is a totalitarian state like North Korea where any dissent or questioning of the State is quickly put down and the concept of personal freedom is very different to what we take for granted in the UK. 

The funeral this week of Margaret Thatcher was one illustration of the freedom of speech and the freedom to protest; some argue that their liberty to protest is restricted but any freedom must come with a responsibility and must be within the law - personal liberty cannot be unrestricted and each and every one of us must be accountable for our actions.  The measles outbreak is an example of freedom to choose whether or not to be vaccinated; or is it?    

A baby or young child does not make the choice, it is the parent who makes the choice for them, but should the State be the guardian of public health?  And what about the right to die, can the individual make the choice or does the State have the final say?  Many have fought and died to maintain personal freedom and liberties and for less control from Government, whilst others argue the opposite. 

The Fire and Rescue Service is both a State and local community service and we add value and benefits to both.  We support national resilience and give an assurance to Government that in the event of a major catastrophe we can provide a highly professional and immediate response to assist the public and aid recovery, and for local communities we can provide an emergency response to incidents from fires to transport and industrial accidents, animal rescues and a host of other emergency incidents whilst also providing a community safety and prevention service that is second to none. 

Our Service is part of the fabric of our society and we must do all we can to protect and preserve our excellent service and ensure those with influence recognise the benefits we provide as a public service.

The work of the Fire and Rescue Service and other emergency responders was brought into sharp focus in Waco, Texas with the news of a massive explosion at a fertiliser plant.  It is believed up to 15 people have been killed with over 160 injured and four firefighters, who attended the initial call to a fire at the site, are still believed to be missing; this is a real tragedy for everyone involved with emergency responders doing their very best to provide assistance and make the scene safe; our sympathies to everyone involved.

My week:
 
  • Met with the Leader of Lewes DC to discuss the new fire station in Newhaven; the Council are keen to be involved in the building for joint use and we are also looking at having a common reception area and to see if other partners including Sussex Police, SECAmb and the Town Council would like to be involved.

  • Prepared a draft report that considered the role of the Chief Fire and Rescue Advisor and how this role could work to support local FRSs and national resilience arrangements whilst able to provide independent and professional advice to the Fire Minister and Government.

  • Met with an Assistant Director from the NHS who I am working with on leadership development and also mentoring; this is all part of our cross sector work and is paying real dividends as Fire and Rescue staff can also access personal development support from senior managers in the NHS.

  • Attended a presentation from Professor Carol Baxter who has developed a programme for NHS Trusts that champion fairness and inclusion for patients and staff and which, it is hoped, can be rolled out across the public sector.

  • Spoke with the Chief Constable to arrange a meeting with our two principal officer teams to discuss future community safety and engagement strategies and then had a meeting with Katy Bourne, the Police and Crime Commissioner who is very keen to work with ESFRS on joint community safety initiatives to reduce anti-social behaviour, improve road safety and to look at sharing premises and facilities.

  • Was invited by The Lord Lieutenant to meet HRH, the  Duke of Gloucester who was visiting the County; I attended an event in Etchingham where the Duke was visiting a local community project that had turned the derelict railway station into a community sponsored  cafe and restaurant with a park and play area and also a revitalised local shop.

  • Went to a meeting with LGA representatives and the new owners of the Fire Service College to discuss their proposed governance arrangements and how the FRS through CFOA and the LGA could work with the Board to support the new business model; we have a real interest as a successful and financially secure College will be a real benefit for operational and incident command training and will be able to support the development of standards.

  • Had a meeting with colleagues from other FRSs to consider how we take forward joint incident command training and develop common standards across the emergency services.

  • Discussed with colleagues the opportunities for Fire and Rescue Services to establish a trading arm and to look at ways to generate income; there may be opportunities through undertaking fire risk assessments which would mean FRSs entering a competitive market, but with the deep financial cuts now facing here in ESFRS, we need to consider all options to remain financially viable and whilst this will mean internal restructuring, we must also look at income generation.


This week Lewes firefighters responded to a serious fire at a local property; using BA, hose reels and compressed air foam, crews were able to extinguish the fire although there was damage to the ground and first floor and smoke damage to the next door property.  The Fire Victim Support Unit attended to provide support to the family involved and one casualty was taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation. 

Crews from Broad Oak, Rye and Hastings were called to a property fire in Beckley where they found a single storey property involved in fire and heavily smoke logged; firefighters used BA, hose reels and main jets to contain the blaze and again called on the services of the Fire Victim Support Unit. 

Firefighters from Hailsham, supported by crews from Herstmonceux, responded to an RTC on Battle Road where two cars had been involved in an accident and two people were trapped in the vehicles.  Firefighters managed to release both casualties and made the scene safe. 

Crews from Preston Circus were called out to a car fire in Stanmer Park, an area where we do get a number of similar incidents.  Crews used BA and hose reels to extinguish the fire.

Heathfield were called out by the RSPCA to rescue a cat from a tree in the nearby village of Waldron; best of traditions the crew rescued the moggy and left the animal in the care of the RSPCA. 

Well done to all our staff who took part in the Brighton Marathon last weekend; congratulations on your tremendous efforts and I know many of you will have been raising money for your favourite charity through your efforts; our sympathies and condolences also to the family of Sam Harper Brighouse who is believed to have suffered a cardiac arrest and died whilst running.

I am looking forward to a relaxing weekend. Last weekend was just too stressful culminating in the disappointment of a trip to Wembley, a football stadium unfamiliar to those who support Spurs, Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle but, hopefully, somewhere that will become familiar to the Seagulls next month.  Good luck to the Albion who are making a determined push for the playoffs - it would be a fantastic boost to the City and County if we were to see Premiership football at the Amex Stadium next year and a real reward for those local supporters who 'kept the faith' after they were treated appallingly with the sale of the Goldstone ground and their round trips to Gillingham and there decade at the Withdean, so even if you’re not the world’s greatest football fan (Sue) get behind Gus and the team for the final few games!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Fantastic news from the NHS Blood and Transplant Service (NHSBT) this week, with organ donations increasing by 50% over the last five years. East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is fully supportive of blood and organ donation, as we know only too well that those we sometimes rescue from fires or road traffic collisions require the significant blood transfusions or organ donations.

Sadly, three people die each day waiting for an organ to be donated and there are over 7,000 people on the waiting list. We know that some communities groups are less likely to donate blood or organs but there are often no religious or faith reasons not to donate and we must do all we can to support the work of NHSBT, as they save lives every single day.

This week the news has been dominated by the passing away of Baroness Thatcher or ‘Maggie’, as our first woman Prime Minister was known. A dominant force in politics for two decades, there is no doubt that Margaret Thatcher left a legacy that would seem from the media reports to have divided many. I know that my mum who was a strong trade unionist argued against the policies that were introduced in the 1980s and I recall many interesting debates taking place with both my parents and their friends about the changing industrial landscape.

I have listened to a number of comments about the changes brought about by the Thatcher led governments, often by people who were not even born when the shift in politics was taking place, who may find it interesting to look at the late 1960s and early 1970s and how the economy of this country was doing and compare the differences today, and then make their comments from a more informed position.

The world was very different in the 1970s when I first started work and one thing that certainly was not about was social media. That certainly came to haunt Paris Brown, the 17- year-old who was appointed as the Kent Youth Crime Commissioner, due to offensive tweets Paris had made when she was aged between 14 and 16. 

Now whilst I don't intend to comment on whatever Paris tweeted when she was a young teenager, I must admit to having made many mistakes and errors of judgement when I was a young teenager, it was simply the 'passage of youth'. However, it does appear we are very harsh to pass judgement and that we should also recognise compassion, forgiveness, understanding and tolerance are the hallmarks of a civilised society.


My Week
 
  • Met with colleagues from College of Policing and NHS to discuss joint leadership training programmes. We have now run two programmes with leaders from across the three sectors and these have been very well received. The delegates have looked at 'the ageing society' and how we need to structure our service delivery to meet the increasing needs of an elderly population.

  • Went to see the Chief Executive Officer of the newly formed Institute for Continuous Improvement in the Public Sector ICiPS, a new body supported by the Cabinet Office. We discussed opportunities to work more closely with them to deliver greater effectiveness in the public sector

  • Update with the Chairman Cllr. Livings to discuss the project for our new fire station in Newhaven. The Chairman is keen for the site to be used with partners, including Lewes District Council and others who have expressed an interest in using our site, but we have to ensure we have a fully functional fire station to meet ESFRS and local community needs and start building later this year.

  • Had a meeting with the procurement team at headquarters as I have now taken over this reference along with finance following the retirement of Diana Williams. We discussed strategic procurement, tendering and systems for monitoring; as of 1st April, Assistance Chief Officer (ACO) Rolph will be responsible for democratic services and Deputy Chief Fire Officer (CFO) Walsh will be responsible for performance management

  • Went to the Fire Service College (FSC) to speak with the Executive Leadership Programme students. They are in their 3rd module and are working on case studies of what it is like to lead a Fire and Rescue Service, looking at the political complexities and how to lead when the future is uncertain - quite a challenge, but exciting and stimulating.

  • Spoke with the new owners of the FSC as to their initial plans for developing the business. They have already invested in a refurbishment and building programme and are looking at new markets to generate the income to make the FSC financially stable and sustainable; optimism abounds!

  • Went to a Health & Safety Conference and gave a presentation on Marlie Farm but focused my presentation on what it was like as a Chief Fire Officer (CFO) to have to deal with the emotions of such an incident. I found the presentation one of the most difficult I have ever made but got really good feedback from delegates who wanted to hear the personal aspects of such an incident.

  • Discussed with the County Council the options for financial and exchequer services as our current contract has run out. We currently outsource these services as we would not be able to run these services 'in-house' as they would be too costly and we must have a new contract in place. Positive discussion which will now be taken forward by our Treasurer Duncan Savage.

  • Fire Authority meetings on Thursday where we had a Scrutiny & Audit Panel and a Policy & Resources Panel. It is a strange time as it is only three weeks until the local elections when we will have a number of new members on the Fire Authority as six of our current Councillors will be standing down and we will see a much changed Fire Authority come the June AGM.

  • Conference call with the branding consultants working for Capita at the Fire Service College, as they have to change the existing badge and logo, as this belongs to Government. They have come up with a number of designs and we discussed options not only for what the brand will look like but whether there is a need to amend the name of the Fire Service College.

This week firefighters from Newhaven responded to a fire in the early hours of the morning at a ground floor flat in Peacehaven. Crews found a well-developed fire which they fought with four breathing apparatus (BA) and two hose reels. The fire investigation team called in the hydrocarbon detector dog from Surrey with their initial finding indicating that the fire was of deliberate origin.

Crews from Broad Oak supported by the specialist animal rescue team from Crowborough responded to an incident where a cow had become stuck in a muddy field near Beckley. The conditions were extremely difficult with firefighters using a rescue path to gain access and then with the advice of a vet, started to dig the cow free and then using the using lines and the winching gear succeeded in rescuing the animal.

Firefighters from Eastbourne supported by crews from Pevensey responded to a 'persons reported' call in the Seaside area of the town. Crews in BA and using Compressed Air Foam System (CAFS) and a hose reel ensured everyone was out of the property and quickly got the fire under control. Fire crews responded to a serious incident at Vines Cross early on Thursday morning rescuing one elderly male from the property. Ambulance crews attended the scene taking the casualty immediately to hospital to receive emergency treatment.

What a difference a few degrees make, a bit of sun and the south coast comes to life. Is this the first shoots of summer and can I get the shorts out? It's looking bright for the Super Blues and I'm looking forward to a day out at Wembley on Sunday; for all those Spurs, Arsenal and Liverpool fans, that's a place where all the good teams get to play and for rest, keep dreaming although with a bit of luck the Seagulls will get their day out in the play-offs.

For all of those who have no interest in football, there's always The Voice and Britain's Got Talent, both which I think are complete drivel but that's a minority view in my house and I get banished and have to watch the footy on my laptop - so unfair!

Well done to Mark Matthews who managed to secure his release from behind bars by raising sufficient bail all in the interest of good causes. Some did say they would have paid more if only they would have kept Mark locked up and good luck to Gaby Stace who will soon be tracking across the desert in Jordan to raise much needed funds in support of leukaemia and lymphoma; you can still donate on Gaby's 'justgiving' page as every extra bit of money will help this very worthy cause.


Friday, 5 April 2013

 hope you enjoyed the Easter break, even if it was a bit chilly. We are a 24/7 emergency service and whilst all our fire stations, Mobilising & Communications Centre, duty officers and on‑call staff are always available, for most of us it was a long weekend with, hopefully, some time to spend with family and enjoying a hot cross bun or Easter egg.   

The other bonus was the extra hour of daylight with the clocks going forward and also the time to check smoke alarms and change the battery, if needed.  But the downside of this long cold spell is the extra heating bills we will all face.  How is it we seem to have got our energy policy so badly wrong with successive Governments ducking the issue that we are not self-sufficient in energy and, if we continue to rely on imported gas and oil, we will be held to ransom by the producers and suppliers? 

Over the weekend, two of our long serving coal-fired power stations at Didcot and Cockenzie were switched off, but what is replacing them?  Continuing prevarications about nuclear energy, planning consents and the 'nimby' lobby, leave this country exposed to a future where the lights will burn less brightly.  Sixty years ago we led the world when the UK opened the world's first nuclear power station at Calder Hall that generated electricity on an industrial scale but where are we in the 21st Century?  

We no longer have the engineering base that was once the envy of the world and have to go overseas to France and other places for nuclear engineers. All we appear to be good for today is to put up a few wind turbines that contribute diddly-squat to our overall energy needs. What we need is leadership and decisive action, otherwise we will be cooking by candlelight in another decade.  And, as for decisiveness, we now see the merger of Fire and Rescue Services and Police Forces in Scotland has gone ahead but, south of the border we remain with what I truly believe is an antiquated structure that is not as efficient and effective as it could be.

The present structure for Fire Rescue Services and Police has served us extremely well and there is much to be proud of. Also, 'bigger is not necessarily better' and some smaller Services have been highly effective but the fiscal pressures we face are unrelenting and there is now an opportunity to be bold and innovative in designing a truly joined up emergency and civil protection service as our legacy for future generations.  I wish our colleagues north of the border our very best and I know that the senior leaders and staff will do their utmost to deliver high quality, high performing services to the people they serve.   

I thought it was only the Canadian Mounties who 'always got their man' but it seems HMRC are just as diligent as the Canadian law enforcers with a report in the Sunday Times that whilst William Shakespeare may well have been one of this country's most famous playwrights he was also a tax dodger.

Shakespeare was also a wealthy landowner and documents recently seen show he was hauled before the courts on a number of occasions for evading tax and for illegally stockpiling food to sell later at inflated prices.  HMRC are now looking at any unpaid taxes for the period 1598 to 1613 to see if there is a case that can be brought to seek recovery from the current Shakespeare estate. With interest for 400 years, this would probably pay for a new power station to be built on the estate's land!   

I hope you enjoyed your Easter eggs at the weekend, you can do a lot of bribing with chocolate. However, beware the Easter egg on sale at Indian Dining in Warlingham; made with chocolate, a ghost chilli, scotch bonnet and a habeneo is said to be ten times hotter than a vindaloo ‑ phew that is hot, but I'm pretty sure that one of our old colleagues, Gary Locker, now working at West Sussex Fire Rescue Service, could have 'eaten that for breakfast' in his Hove curry eating days! 

The restaurant said that if you wanted to order one, you had to be over 18, and sign a disclaimer.  I understand Alex Ferguson has also signed a disclaimer that he is not responsible for winning the FA Cup if they ever have to play the Super Blues, who turned on a magical performance on Monday that almost made me warm to Rafa Benitez!

My Week

  • Hectic day at headquarters with feedback to candidates who had recently been for an interview, looked at papers for a forthcoming tribunal, discussed the draft auditors report and then further discussion with potential partners for the new fire station in Newhaven, as we need to appoint a building contractor.

  • Spent much of the weekend preparing for two presentations I have to make and also considering how to take forward the national learning and development agenda, where it has been agreed there needs to be a focus on underpinning facts and knowledge and not just demonstrating skills.

  • On Monday met with private sector consortium to look at implications of new tax changes when uniform and PPE will now be deemed by HMRC to be a "benefit in kind" and staff who are supplied with any sort of uniform will be liable to additional personal tax. The meeting was to see if we could use the private sector consortium to act as a third party and for staff to order what would be their own uniform and PPE directly through that company rather than ESFRS, thereby avoid any personal tax liability.

  • Meeting with senior team to consider on‑going corporate risk register and our work with the local resilience forum.

  • Went to see the NJC employers to discuss potential changes to conditions of service that have been raised by a number of Fire Rescue Services; any changes will have to go through the formal negotiating route.

  • Attended an officer training day at Uckfield, which was much more fun than being in the office. Update on BA Main Control and a TDX for a ship fire in port and also a chance to pitch ladders including a confined space drill, wearing BA and just a chance to keep our feet on the ground. I always enjoy these training events as it gives me the opportunity to meet up with other officers and also see training delivered from the perspective of a student. I also had a chance to chat with firefighters at Stn 12.

  • Prepared for a Members appeal hearing and also an opportunity to speak with the Chairman about ESFRS issues, including our medium term plan. Further discussions with the County Council, to discuss our arrangements for financial services and then meeting to discuss the Firefighters Charity and how we can continue to support their excellent work, which benefits firefighters, sport staff and their families.

This week, our Communications team has been talking to BBC TV about their programme on "Real Rescues", a good opportunity to show to a mass audience the wide range of emergency response work we do. 

Did you see the programme on "Toughest Place to be a Firefighter", with one of our West Sussex neighbours Neil Fairhall from Haywards Heath featured working in the Amazon jungle? Great programme and illustrated the fantastic work that firefighters in other parts of the world do with the most basic of kit and equipment.  

This also brings home the fantastic work of Operation Florian, which I know a number of our firefighters have been involved with in helping to support fledgling Fire and Rescue Services in the Balkans, Africa and South America.

Despite the snow and cold weather this time of the year we still see large fires in the Ashdown Forest with nine pumps responding to an incident in Nutley on 1st April; M&CC received many repeat calls but a swift response brought the blaze under control.  

Another great community open day at Uckfield fire station where firefighters put on a rescue drill and an road traffic collision exercise for local people along with providing fire safety advice and lots of toddies including the ever popular cake stall. Well done to the Uckfield wholetime and retained duty system firefighters, who supported the event and our ever willing volunteers who helped to make the day such a success. 

Finally, well done to Green Watch and other staff at Eastbourne who were involved in 'Operation Lifesavers', a great idea to promote smoke detectors and involving the local community and good luck with the children's 'fun day' this coming Sunday where I know you will put on a fantastic show for the  winners of the competition.