Friday, 26 July 2013

26 July 2013

I am sure everyone was deeply saddened to hear the news about the train crash in Spain and I would like to offer our deepest condolences to everyone affected by that terrible event. It must have been an awful scene for the survivors and the emergency responders and we can only hope that the number of fatalities does not rise any further.  

Whilst the UK media has covered this tragedy, it has undoubtedly been dominated with the news of a 'Royal Baby' this week. Our congratulations go to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of their son George Alexander Louis.

The 'Royal birth' also dominated the front pages in Canada and Australia with what was described as wall to wall coverage in the USA, with China, France, Germany and many other countries carrying the story on their front pages.  Whilst there has been much debate over the years in the UK about the Monarchy, many other countries greatly admire our Royal Family and whilst I am still a little surprised that both Canada and Australia have not taken the decision to become a Republic, a number of my Canadian and Aussie friends are firmly of the view that although we are separated by thousands of miles and a different language, they much prefer to have Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State rather than the alternatives that have been suggested. At least for my Aussie mates, the Royal baby is something to celebrate with a VB (Victoria Bitter) or bottle of Penfolds Grange as their sporting fortunes continue to plummet whilst the UK goes from strength to strength. 

It seems as if the spirit of Olympic success continues to burn brightly with Justin Rose winning the US Golf Open Championship, Andy Murray's brilliant effort at Wimbledon, the British & Irish Lions completely dominating the Wallabies and the England Cricket Team simply running away with the Ashes.  And last weekend, Chris Froome became the second British winner of the Tour de France, so lots to be proud of.  Our nation is one that does have its difficulties and challenges but I believe we do have a spirit of tenacity, perseverance and a willingness and determination to make things better. 

And where this is much more tangible is here in ESFRS; last Friday we had our Ceremony where firefighters, support staff and M&CC personnel received Long Service and Good Conduct Medals, the East Sussex Medal, CFO Commendations and the Chairman's Award for Excellence.  An evening to celebrate, especially for those receiving awards and my thanks to the Lord Lieutenant for presenting the LSGC Medal.  It was also a great evening for the families and friends of those who came up to receive their awards; I saw delighted children as their mum or dad went up to receive their medal, to warm applause from the audience and I saw proud wives, husbands and partners and some very proud parents with beaming smiles as the Awards were made.  An evening of celebration and a real privilege for me to be there; lots of work went on behind the scenes with many staff involved in organising, preparing for and cleaning up after the event; we do have much to be proud of in ESFRS with many great staff showing their support, even when I have to convey difficult messages.

Another good thing about the UK, isn't the weather just fantastic!!!  One thing that is not considered so fantastic though is the management of major Government procurement and IT projects. Whilst I am not qualified to comment with any intimate knowledge, the Public Accounts Committee this week said that the Regional Control Centres which were cancelled in 2010, was as reported in the Times, one of the "worst cases of project failure" ever seen, wasting at least £482 million. The result of this cancelled project led to the decision for ESFRS and our neighbours in West Sussex to move to a joint Sussex Control Centre and in the light of Sir Ken Knight's 'Efficiency Review' one may ask the question, why, particularly in light of the further savings we have to make, do we not now move to combine our two Fire and Rescue Services?

My week

*. couldn't have started better with the Awards Ceremony; great to see some old friends and colleagues and two of our recent Chairmen, Mike Murphy and Ted Kemble along with the new High Sheriff Graham Peters

*. went across to the Hailsham Open Day - must improve my timing for next year!!

*. met with the PO Team to discuss our preparations in case of any industrial action; whilst I recognise this is a sensitive issue, I have a responsibility to have plans in place to provide an operational response in the event of any strike action taking place

*. telephone discussion with the CSE Assessor who visited ESFRS last week where he updated me on the meetings he had with various staff groups and the issues that were raised with him; we look forward to receiving his final report and any recommendation which we will action

*. visited Preston Circus to meet with Blue and Green Watches; a useful opportunity to meet with staff and discuss our current financial situation and then savings we are going to have to make over the medium term, also discussed outline proposals for refurbishment and renovation of the station and plans being discussed with the Duke of York Cinema; I believe it is very important to meet with staff and talk with them face to face and to discuss the issues being faced by the Service

*.  a day of appraisals, firstly with two of my team and then I had my appraisal with the Chairman, where we discussed the objectives I would be expected to deliver this year and how I would continue to provide leadership to ESFRS and work to support the Fire Authority.

*. telephone conference with colleagues for other FRSs to discuss our response to the efficiency review, correspondence with the TUC regarding their protocol for trade unions providing basic emergency response during industrial action and collaboration with the Emergency Ambulance Service and Police

* meeting with the Chairman to discuss future collaboration with Sussex Police, how we can share services and buildings and proposals from Surrey to discuss closer working with their County Council, Police Force and FRS; this is very much in the planning stage and we will know more following the Chairman's meeting with the Police & Crime Commissioner

* attended a meeting of the new Fire Service College Management Board which will determine the future direction of the College and the development of new business; I have also been asked to Chair the College Customer Advisory Board which includes representatives from Police, Health, Risk Critical Industries and well as local and national government reps, should be interesting!!!

* seminar for the Fire Authority at HQ including presentations on our work with vulnerable communities, an opportunity to see the new ARP at Eastbourne and an update on the progress of the Sussex Control Centre; builders are now on site and have started their refurbishment programme.

This week was another busy one for the Service with crews from Eastbourne supported by the TRU from Lewes being called out to rescue an elderly male who was injured after a lift fell from first floor to ground floor level at a care home in Denton Road.  Firefighters from Bohemia Rd and The Ridge were called out to an RTC involving three cars on Harley Shute Road; two people were released prior to the arrival of the Fire Service, with one casualty being extricated by crews and transferred to hospital by Ambulance.

On Monday afternoon, firefighters were responded to a Special Services incident after a teenager became trapped by their hand at premises on Seaside; crews dealt with what could have been a difficult incident with great care, before passing the casualty over to Ambulance personnel for further treatment.  City crews have been to a variety of incidents including being called out to rescue a cat that had become trapped on the roof of a premises in Terminus Rd, using the ALP to access the building to free our 'furry friend'.

Seaford  crews may have been expecting an animal related incident when they were called out to Drusilla's Zoo but found themselves responding to release a small child who had become locked inside a car; with temperatures rising crews quickly gained access and released the two year old girl.  Two events this weekend, with Open Days at Pevensey and Broad Oak; these will be great events with two very proactive OICs and Station personnel determined to put on a show for their local communities; I am away this weekend so will not be at either of these events, but they will be worth a visit;  Chris Freeman will always have a surprise or two up his sleeve at Pevensey and Chris Sands and his crews put on a fabulous event on the playing fields with some of the best hotdogs and burgers in the County, and you may get a chance to see George O'Reilly 'twirl his baton'.  In my absence there is a chance for someone else to win the horseshoe tossing, a trophy I have won a number of times over the past few years, but in the words of Arnie "I'll be back"!!!

Des Prichard
Chief Fire Officer & Chief Executive
East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service

Friday, 19 July 2013

19 July 2013

Sadly, last weekend we learned that Firefighter Stephen Hunt of Greater Manchester FRS had tragically lost his life whilst fighting a fire in a City Centre shop. This news will have touched all of us in ESFRS and the wider Fire & Rescue Service family and I know you will all be thinking of Stephen's family and friends and his colleagues in GMFRS.   Chief Fire Officer Steve McGuirk has said that the family and Stephen's many friends have been touched by the many messages of sympathy. We will do all we can to offer our support and our thoughts and prayers are with those who are grieving at the tragic loss of a firefighter who was simply doing his job.  At the weekend we also heard about the two TA soldiers who died during a training exercise on the Brecon Beacons; our sincere condolences to the families of these two young men who were training to serve our country and yet sadly and tragically lost their lives. 

With that sad news, there was also some light relief to watch the cricket and after the great win over the Aussies in the rugby, it was good to see the England cricket team continuing the winning streak. There were a few controversial decisions, particularly when Stuart Broad was so clearly out but behaved like a kid in the playground when you have jumpers for goalposts and denies his best friend a definite goal by insisting 'it hit the post'.  I'm all for beating the Aussies but can't say I agreed with Broad; he should have walked.  Sports personalities do have a responsibility as they are looked upon as role models and this week we heard that  two of the world's best sprinters had tested positive for banned substances. Sport is so high profile and there are enormous pressures to win, but it can't be at all costs; train clean, work hard, stay focused and you'll get your rewards just like Andy Murray and Bradley Wiggins. Alf Tupper was my boyhood hero and he never needed to take any fancy supplements, he trained on a diet of fish and chips and broke world records on the track!

Another sporting event this week caused controversy but not with regard to the sport itself, but the 'admissions policy'; the Open Golf Tournament is taking place at Muirfield in Scotland, a beautiful links course, but the club is a 'male only' members club.  It strikes me as being very odd that in 2013, a club with the status of Muirfield still has such an outdated policy; many people suggest Muirfield should come into the 21st century and recognise that women are here to stay! I thought this anachronistic and silly rules had been left behind in the last decades of the 20th century. Emmeline Pankhurst was born 155 years ago this week, and in honouring her indomitable spirit, can I suggest to the honourable members at Muirfield that they review their membership criteria!

My week:

·         Went across to Chichester to meet one of the watches in the Chichester Control Room;  the staff have now transferred to East Sussex as part of the arrangements for the new Control Centre and they were very positive about working arrangements.

·         Attended a function where I had the opportunity to speak with the Chief Constable and the Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) where we discussed opportunities for closer working and sharing facilities with Sussex Police. Also met the Chairman and Leader of West Sussex County Council where we discussed the Sussex Control Project and what both Services could do to share facilities and working arrangements.

·         Met with one of the watches at Bexhill where we talked about the new link road, discussions on staffing and proposals for changes to shifts and duty systems, how we were preparing for making further savings and a general chat about the Service. Worthwhile visit as good opportunity to catch up, a welcome cup of tea and quick topography update which provided me with a shortcut to Bohemia Rd.

·         Went to open day at Bohemia Rd; lots going on and good to see Cllrs Phil Scott, Peter Pragnell and Michael Wincott, who were all keen to visit. Rope rescue and road traffic collision (RTC) demos, lots of Community Fire Safety (CFS) activities and fundraising for the Fire Fighters Charity on station. Thanks to staff and volunteers for their support; also the bonus of the very scrummy flapjack and banana and white chocolate bread and then went out to a four pump incident on the seafront where I saw local crews in action and then picked up some fire safety issues in the premises, a busy morning!

·         Visited Crowborough's open day which was part of local event at leisure centre; very large crowds on an extremely hot afternoon and had to deal with a lady who was suffering from the heat and was in a state of near collapse, ably assisted by the Crowborough crew - a lot to put into my Continuous Professional Development (CPD); operations, trauma care and fire safety!

·         Very useful Officers Training day with good updates from Glenn Jones and then an update on Incident Command. Also had a chance to have a quick wear and go through the breathing apparatus (BA) chamber. Good to see the extension for BA classrooms and other training rooms and store is on schedule.  Had a look at one of the four-day refresher courses with a number of Retained Duty System (RDS) firefighters going through their road traffic collision (RTC) training.

·         Went to a meeting of East Sussex County Council and met some of the Fire Authority Members who serve on the County Council. Spoke with the Chairman on his future meeting with the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and opportunities for further collaboration and sharing of facilities with Sussex Police.

·         Met Heather Wicker and Lesley Wembridge and we went out for a meal and had a chat about family and a general catch up. I always meet Heather and Lesley with Dave Sheppard and Jenny Allen who have been the family liaison officers ever since the Marlie Farm incident. Dave always finds some out of the way place to meet up and this time he excelled himself as we met up in Warbleton; only took me 2 hours and 47 miles from Seaford to find the place.

·         Attended the Firefighters Pensions Committee in London where Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) officials updated the attendees on a number of matters, including the current position with regard to pensions, the analysis they have undertaken on opt-out rates, and the actuaries assessment of future costs based on longevity.

·         Went to a Board meeting where we looked at how we continue to find the resources for the Operational Guidance Programme Board, the annual subscription with Skills for Justice our response to Sir Ken Knight's Efficiency Review and the future development of Fire Service Emergency Cover (FSEC) and a number of Integrated Risk Management Programme (IRMP) issues.

·         Listened in to the telephone conference between the Fire Minister and staff regarding pensions. A number of issues raised by callers and I would hope that those who dialled in found it helpful.

This week crews from the Newhaven based Maritime Team were mobilised to assist the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) after a car had gone over the cliffs near Belle Tout Lighthouse, where one person was believed to still be in the vehicle; firefighters from Bohemia Road, Lewes and Battle were called out to an incident where a person was trapped in a vehicle following a collision on the A21 at Hurst Green. Battle crews freed the casualty and passed her into the care of the SECamb and HEMS team.

The hot weather has seen an increase in risk for fires in the open with six pumps mobilised to a gorse fire at Castle Hill, Newhaven earlier this week. The next day another fire in gorse saw crews called out to an incident near Peacehaven Golf Course. Firefighters worked well at both incidents to limit the extent of the fires and prevent them spreading to properties with Lewes Borough Commander Garry Collins giving out a fire safety message to advise the public of the hazards and how to reduce risk in open areas.

The good weather is expected to continue into the weekend so get along to the Hailsham Open Day on Saturday which is always good fun. Also good luck to everyone taking part in the 'Tunnel to Towers' race from Rotherhithe Tunnel to Canary Wharf, in memory of the 9/11 attack in New York, if you're taking part then hydrate and re-hydrate and I'm sure you'll be fine.

Des Prichard
Chief Fire Officer & Chief Executive
East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service

Friday, 12 July 2013

What a fantastic last few days, the British & Irish Lions winning a cracking test match against the Wallabies in Melbourne, the most sports mad of cities I have ever visited, then Andy Murray ending a 77 year wait for a British Wimbledon men's winner.

What an outstanding performance and if ever there was a role model for dedication, commitment and a sheer will to win, then Andy is your man; even Bob Newton and I can't remember Fred Perry winning the last men's singles in 1936, I can assure you that despite my years and grey hair, I wasn't even born then although I think Bob may have been in short trousers! 

And what about the cricket, the one sporting event we were expected to win this summer; you can always rely on the England cricket team to under perform and right on cue, with everyone expecting the team to get off to a flying start in the Ashes series, they struggle to contain an Australian side that was described by the Aussie press earlier this year as being 'pale warriors who did not have the stomach to fight or the legs to last the distance'. The Aussie media do not pull their punches, so I wonder what the headlines will be in the Sydney Morning Herald after Thursday's stunning performance by 19 year old Ashton Agar. 

Continuing the theme of young people, on a personal note, I was a very proud dad when I went to see my son's graduation from Bath University, a great ceremony in the magnificent surroundings of Bath Abbey and an occasion I will long remember. It is fantastic as a parent to see your children grow up and achieve their ambitions although I'm not sure you ever stop worrying about your children no matter how old they are!

Good news also this week for Hastings fisherman as they won a landmark victory in the High Court where it ruled that smaller fishing boats of the type seen in the Hastings fleet, should receive a redistributed fishing quota from those massive factory fishing ships that are wrecking our fish stocks. The Hastings fleet are launched from the beach and catch some absolutely delicious local fish; good luck to the Hastings fleet and long may it thrive.

My Week

Went across the Stn 11 (Eastbourne) to see the new ARP which is now on station for driver training and familiarisation; a great vehicle which should be an asset to our operational fleet.  Firefighters have been involved in the design and specification and we should see the vehicle on the run in the early part of 2014; my thanks to all who have been involved in this innovative project.

Attended a reception hosted by the Chairman of East Sussex County Council, Colin Belsey, where I had the opportunity to speak with Councillors from different local authorities across East Sussex and the City. Councillor Belsey is looking forward to visiting ESFRS during his time in office to find out more about our Service, and is particularly keen to look at the Community Safety initiatives we are involved in and how we work with the County Council.

What a fabulous weekend with the Eastbourne 999 show and the Herstmonceux Open Day. The seafront in Eastbourne was packed with thousands of visitors over the weekend visiting the emergency services show. My thanks and appreciation to the many members of our staff and our community volunteers who were there to talk to the public, put on demonstrations and showcase the very best of ESFRS.  The Chairman and other Councillors were at the show and were extremely impressed with the contributions made by our staff and also the positive relationships we had with our other emergency service colleagues. Herstmonceux Open Day was a great success and many thanks to the crew and the CFS staff who supported the event.

Meeting at HQ with the Principal Officer Team and then prepared for appraisals with those I line manage; appraisals are extremely important as it is a real opportunity for staff to discuss their personal aims and objectives and also personal ambitions; I am also preparing for my own appraisal with the Chairman (hope I'm performing OK!!!).

Attended a meeting with the Windsor Leadership Trust where I had the opportunity to meet with senior leaders from other organisations; this is part of my personal development plan and is really helpful for my own development.

Was invited to a meeting to support and inform FRSs and senior officers on the future of the Service, how to lobby and influence government and as mentioned last week, the recent reports on a more integrated Fire and Emergency Ambulance Service, and the comments made by the Home Secretary about Fire Authorities being brought under the role of the Police & Crime Commissioner.

Went to a meeting to receive an update on the work being undertaken by Firefit and Bath University in fitness standards; the researchers have now completed their trials and are collating all the data which should eventually lead to them pitting together an evidence based report on fitness standards for firefighters.

Prepared for the Fire Authority Policy & Resources and Scrutiny & Audit Panel meetings; these will be the first meetings since the AGM where we will have the opportunity to update Members on a number of matters including the revenue budget, savings proposals and Sussex Control Centre.

Met with colleagues to discuss some key national HR matters including pensions, functional skills, fitness standards, conditions of service, equality & inclusion and new arrangement for CRB checks.

Received the notification from our National Employers that the FBU will be balloting their membership later this month on the potential for national strike action.  I know this will be a difficult and sensitive time for many staff and we will make available to staff as much information as we are able. This dispute is not with ESFRS or our Authority but with central government and therefore it will be a difficult time for all of us and I will need to advise the Fire Authority on the issues, implications and options for ESFRS.

Met with our external auditors for Ernst & Young before they presented a report to the Scrutiny & Audit Panel; our auditors will spend a number of days in the Service during the year to prepare a report for the Fire Authority as part of our financial and governance responsibilities.

Spent most of Thursday at Scrutiny & Audit and then Policy & Resources Panel; our Members wanted to look in some detail at a number of reports into performance, finance, service planning, corporate risk and savings schedules. Members also wanted to discuss the recent correspondence from the National Employers regarding the potential for industrial action and wanted to look very closely at the Sussex Control Project.
Many congratulations to Lucy Birch from our HR team; Lucy has been studying for 3 years with the University of Brighton and has just completed her Master's Degree achieving a 'Merit' which is a significant achievement. 
Crews were mobilised to a person reported at Sweda Court in Kemp Town, Brighton. There was a fire on the first floor of a purpose built block of flats with five storeys. The incident was upgraded to Make pumps 5 with additional resources mobilised Crews used six breathing apparatus, one jet, two hose reels and a PPV fan (positive pressure ventilation).  A Level 1 fire investigation was carried out and the cause deemed accidental.
On 6th July crews were mobilised to Wade Court in Hatch End, Forest Row. It followed a call from WELL Lifeline.  On arrival crews found that the fire was out but that the kitchen was heavily smoke logged due to burnt cooking. An ambulance was requested for an 89 year old lady suffering smoke inhalation.
Crews were sent to a kitchen fire at Happy Dragon on North Road in Pevensey. There was a severe fire in the Chinese takeaway and heavy smoke logging throughout building. Crews used six breathing apparatus, foam and three main jets. Police and ambulance were also in attendance. An urgent request was also sent to UK Power Network and the Gas board.  The terrace building has two floors consisting of a ground floor restaurant and a flat above.  The fire was in main kitchen. Crews used two hose reel, foam, six breathing apparatus, a PPV fan and hydrant.  One elderly female was given oxygen by the ambulance service from neighbouring property. A Fire Investigation Officer was requested and the cause deemed accidental. Crews spent time cutting away and damping down.
Firefighters were called out to a caravan fire at Middle Way, Lewes. The caravan was well alight and had spread to the front of property. Two gas cylinders were involved. Crews used foam and main jet. One cylinder was removed and one left to vent off. Two main jets used along with two breathing apparatus, one hydrant and one TIC. Crews spent time cutting away and damping down. Damage was caused to several phone lines and cables.
On 11th July crews were mobilised to a mechanical digger alight at the Recycling Plant at Hollingdean Lane, Brighton where foam was used.  The cause was accidental.
Congratulations to our UKRO extrication and trauma care teams who competed in the national competition on Merseyside at the weekend.  All the firefighters in the teams put in an enormous amount of work during the year preparing for the national event, but this is not just about the competition, it is about improving our extrication and trauma care skills and the teams have brought back knowledge and expertise into ESFRS and helped to improve our operational skills.  In addition, the teams are always looking at new equipment and provide the background research for new RTC and trauma care equipment which we can bring into the Service. 

This year DCFO Walsh accompanied the teams to Merseyside and was hugely impressed with the knowledge, skills and expertise they demonstrated.  We should also congratulate the team from Macedonia who in their first go on the UKRO completion came a very creditable 22nd; firefighters, support staff and volunteers from ESFRS have supported Macedonian firefighters through the work they do on 'Operation Florian', and I am sure the Macedonian firefighters would be the first to thank their friends from ESFRS who have given up their time to support them over the past few years.
With the good weather continuing into the weekend, make a date to visit Bohemia Road, Hastings or Crowborough on Saturday, as both stations are having their Open Days; there will be lots to do for the family and please bring along your friends and neighbours to what will be a great day out!

Friday, 5 July 2013

5 July 2013

The terrible tragedy in Arizona where 19 firefighters lost their lives illustrates the extreme dangers of wild land firefighting; 19 young members of the City of Prescott Fire Department who were part of an elite team of firefighters known as the Granite City Hotshots were tragically killed in the line of duty, working in the most difficult conditions imaginable, to protect their local community; our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends.

Closer to home, the major blaze at a recycling plant in Smethwick, saw 200 firefighters from the West Midlands Fire & Rescue Service respond  to a very serious fire which it is believed was caused by a 'Chinese Lantern'; in recent years these lanterns have become more popular at celebrations but it is believed they have been responsible for causing a number of fires with farmers representatives claiming they are also a hazard to livestock; a debate is now taking place as to whether there should be an outright ban or stricter controls on these lanterns or whether they can be made safer and less of a fire hazard.

This week also saw the launch of a report by Tobias Elwood, the Conservative MP for Bournemouth East, which talked about major reform of the emergency services recommending the creation of a single fire and ambulance authority for England; a week ago, Home Secretary Theresa May suggested that Fire & Rescue Services should be under the Police and Crime Commissioner whilst the Chancellor's recently announced spending review has seen a further 10% cut to fire and rescue service (FRS) budgets; all in all a lot going on and a lot of discussion on the future of our Service.

We need to ensure we are fully engaged in the debate and discussion otherwise a solution will be imposed upon us which I am not convinced will have been properly thought through; we should not forget the fiasco of the Regional Control Centre project and the huge cost to the public purse of an ill-conceived project that was cancelled at an estimated cost of around £650 million.

That is not to say I am opposed to reform, indeed I have been calling for reform of the FRS for some time.  My own view is that there are too many FRSs in England, as I also believe there are too many Police Forces, and that there is an argument to merge both FRSs and Police Forces on co-terminus boundaries and that the FRS can also do much more emergency trauma care work to support our emergency ambulance service. But, this needs to be properly thought through; Elwood's report makes interesting reading and I would have to agree with the principles outlined in the report, but I'm less convinced of putting FRSs under the Police and Crime Commissioner as I believe structural reform should come before deciding who is in charge.

My Week

  • Spent much of the weekend travelling back from leave and disappointed that in the final match I was watching, the Lions failed to win a close match against the Wallabies - this would have been an historic victory so now have to bite my fingernails this Saturday morning!!!

  • Back at work on Monday and spent time catching up with the team; I wasn't even missed and that's what is so good about having such an experienced and competent Principal Officer Team and Corporate Management Team.

  • Met with the Chairman to talk about the Sussex Control Centre, the spending review and how this affects our medium term plan, opportunities to work with West Sussex FRS, Sussex Police and South East Coast Ambulance; the Chairman has recently met with his opposite number from West Sussex County Council and it would appear that discussions on merger are 'off the table'; the Chairman will also be meeting the Police and Crime Commissioner to discuss any future opportunities to work more closely with Sussex Police.

  • Discussed our capital programme and in particular the major refurbishment at Crowborough which is going well, the new Breathing Apparatus classrooms at Service Training Centre which are also on schedule, progress on the new fire station planned for Newhaven and on-going talks with a number of developers which may provide an opportunity at other fire station sites; the new Aerial Rescue Pump is now in East Sussex and a training programme will commence for firefighters at Eastbourne.

  • Had discussions with the Fire Service College on the arrangements for purchasing training courses; as the College is now in private sector hands we need to be aware of European procurement rules; what is pleasing to note is the contract that is now in place for training firefighters from Saudi Arabia which demonstrates how highly regarded the College is and hopefully we shall see the College go from strength to strength.

  • Prepared draft reports for the Policy & Resources and Scrutiny & Audit Panels which meet next week for the first time with our new Fire Authority; there are a number of important papers for Members to consider in particular the medium term plan and what options the Authority will be considering to meet the savings target over the next 4 years.

  • Met with Richard Fowler to discuss how we can support sprinkler installations in high rise buildings and high risk domestic premises; a number of others FRSs have had success in building partnerships with local housing authorities to install sprinkler systems and we are now looking at opportunities across the City and County area to improve safety in the home.

  • Had a fabulous day out when I went to see my son Ben graduate from Bath University - very proud parents as I am sure many of you who have seen your children go through the graduation ceremony will remember.
Congratulations to Mark Hobbs and Martin Combs who have successfully completed the Level 5 CFPA Europe Advanced Diploma in Fire Prevention; this award is recognised across Europe and is the highest qualification for fire safety inspecting officers; Mark and Martin have put in a huge amount of work and effort to achieve the Diploma and all credit to them for their achievement.

Congratulations also to the Uckfield team of 6 firefighters who successfully undertook the 3 Peaks Challenge in 21 hours 26 minutes gaining a silver medal.  The team managed to raise £2,700 for the Firefighters Charity and Home Start South Downs and took Blaze Bear with them up (and down) every peak!

Crews across the County and City have been busy this week with firefighters from Rye and The Ridge responding to an RTC at Military Road, Rye involving one vehicle; firefighters made the scene safe working with colleagues from Sussex Police.

Crews from the City responded to a request from the RSPCA to rescue a seagull that was trapped in an industrial paint drying oven; firefighters responded but also used the call as a training exercise using the ALP and ASK equipment.

Crews from Bexhill responded to a road traffic collision involving two cars at Fourways, Ninfield Road, Sidley.  Four people were injured in the collision. One person was extricated from a vehicle by firefighters. The Air Ambulance was also in attendance. 

Crews from Pevensey were called out to rescue a little kitten that had become trapped on a second floor roof at a property on Fairmount Road, Old Town, Bexhill. 
Crews from Bohemia Road, Hastings, were mobilised to a report of a fire in the open outside Crabtree Cottage, Archery Road, Saint Leonards, Hastings. Crews arrived to a car well alight. 1:7 foam used, 1 hose reel, 1 breathing apparatus.
Firefighters from Eastbourne were sent to assist ambulance crews at The Arundel Hotel, Meads, Eastbourne. Two people had fallen off a wall into the basement area of building, causing with severe head injuries. Both were taken to hospital by ambulance.

Some very sad news this week when we heard that Bob Noble had passed away; Bob joined our team at ESFRS in IMD as the Comms Technician and later became the caretaker at HQ, Bob suffered from Alzheimer's in recent years, but will be remembered for his great enthusiasm, friendliness to everyone and his great sense of humour; we send our deepest condolences to Bob's family.

This weekend is the Eastbourne 999 event which is always great fun as well as being an opportunity for the emergency services in East Sussex to show the public the wide range of services we provide; there will be displays from ESFRS, Sussex Police, SECamb the local Coastguard.  The weather forecast suggests temperatures will be in the high 20 degrees so bring your family and friends along for what should be a great couple of days out but don't forget your sunscreen!

This Saturday morning ( for those who are not already at the 999 weekend or at Herstmonceux's Station Open Day), make a date for the Lions deciding test match against the Wallabies, 11.00 o'clock on Saturday morning, should be a cracker!!!