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!