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.

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