Friday, 9 August 2013



Brighton Pride last weekend was an outstanding success and thanks to all the ESFRS staff who were involved in the parade; there were an estimated crowd of 100,000 lining the streets and at Preston Park as the City showed why it would be hard to find a more inclusive and diverse community anywhere in the country.  

The streets were thronged with families, children, members of the LGBT community, parents, community groups, grandparents, young people in the party spirit, an ethnically and culturally diverse crowd who all came out to enjoy themselves and celebrate all that is great about our City. 

I recall recently talking to a friend who was thinking of moving his family to Brighton and after they had visited on a few occasions he asked them what they thought; he said there was a real telling comment from his teenage daughter who had quite a severe facial disfigurement and she said something along the lines of "dad, when I come to Brighton, no one looks at me, they just see me as another person walking about the town, this is such a welcoming place".  Well it was no surprise that me that my friend moved to Brighton and his family never regretted the decision. 

It was also great to see colleagues from West Sussex, Hampshire and Kent who all had fire engines in the parade and also colleagues firefighters from London, Essex, Humberside, Scotland, Cornwall, Bedfordshire, Staffordshire and probably a few more that  I've forgotten.  Our Chairman, Cllr. Howson was accompanied by the High Sheriff, Graham Peters, who came around with our crew and it was good to see our staff waving from the top of Preston Circus Fire Station. 

The good weather continues by and large, with sun when we want it and selective rain in Manchester on Monday afternoon - it has often been said that the 'weather god is an Englishman' and true to form, when Australia looked like they were closing in for the kill against England in the 3rd cricket test match, the heavens opened and England retained the Ashes; not the best way to win but I'll take any win any time against the Aussies!!! 

And did you celebrate the welcome return of the football season on Saturday, at last something meaningful to do on a Saturday afternoon although I’ve got to wait another 8 days until Chelsea are back in business.  I do know that some of you who read the Blog are not the greatest of football fans, but at least you are open about it, whereas those poor old Arsenal and Spurs supporters give the impression they really like football but it their hearts they know they are in for another season of pain and misery with about as much chance of winning a trophy as Gus Poyet (a hero for 3 seasons) has of being given the freedom of Brighton, and as for poor old Paul Way and Brin Powell, cursed with following the Hammers and the Toon; you can see the cry for help etched on their faces as they continue to play the hand they have been dealt!!!

My week:

  • Contingency planning meeting to discuss our preparations in case a strike is announced after the FBU ballot; training is being planned for those staff who will be providing an operational response during any strike and we have written to the FBU to ask them to discuss local arrangements to help protect local communities


  • Met with POs to catch up on a number of matters including Sussex Control, meetings with the Fire Authority, media relations and potential income generation; Victoria Jones and Paul Way joined the meeting as they were 'shadowing' Cheryl Rolph and Gary Ferrand to find out more about their roles. (And if you are a member of staff reading this and you would like to 'shadow' any of the POs as part of your personal development, you would be very welcome; please contact my PA or the Policy Support Officer)
  • Briefing with Claire George and Warren Tricker to discuss procurement and our strategy for future procurement; we need to ensure we do not fall foul of EU procurement rules and that we have the correct processes in place when tendering for contracts
  • Went out to meet our previous Chairman John Livings, and ex Councillors Paul Sparks and Roger Thomas; they wanted to pass on their very best wishes to all in ESFRS and thank staff for all the support you had provided when they were on the Fire Authority and that although they had served on many different councils and committees, their most enjoyable time was being on the Fire Authority
  • Meeting to discuss operational turnouts from every station over the past 10 years looking to see which appliances are mobilised and which station ground they attend; helpful information for future planning and our IRMP
  • I had the delightful pleasure of meeting someone who I can only describe as a role model firefighter and who will be retiring next month after more than 40 years’ service; Bob Newton MBE from Station 11 joined Eastbourne County Borough back in July 1973 and is the last Borough firefighter still serving; still enormously enthusiastic about the job Bob is also a commissioned Officer in the Army Cadet Force and was the Colonel-in Chief of the Sussex Regiment; and ever on duty, Bob had to cut short the exit interview and leg it out of my office as he had a 'shout'!!!
  • Meeting with Local Government Association officers to discuss development programmes for elected members and peer review challenge; ESFRS will be undergoing a peer review early in 2014, with a focus on operational assurance
  • Discussion with colleagues from the NHS and the College of Policing to look at the future of cross sector leadership training; we have run a number of very successful programmes this year and now want to set this up on a more formalised basis and met with the senior managers from the NHS Leadership Academy to see if we can work with them
  • Went to Crowborough to meet with some of the firefighters who were involved in the incident in Nutley where an oxygen cylinder exploded; great news that there were no lasting injuries with crews and the incident commander doing an excellent job using their experience in what could potentially have been a very dangerous situation. I also had a look around the extension and refurbishment of the station and was really impressed with what we have managed to do with the site; firefighters were very much involved in the design, working with estates and we now have a very good fire station which I am told will be complete on time and within budget
  • Met up with a number of Heads of Service and other senior managers to discuss the Fire Authority's plans for the future including the amount we need to save over the next 5 years, our proposals to meet our savings target up to 2018/19, with a discussion on empowering managers to lead and implement change; also discussed contingency planning arrangements
  • Had a meeting with a senior clinical manager from an NHS Trust in Essex who I am mentoring; this is part of our collaboration between Fire & Rescue, Police and the NHS where we share mentors and coaches and I now mentor two senior managers for the NHS but the payback is we have staff who are mentored by colleagues from the Police and NHS

 This week crews from Crowborough, Uckfield and Forest Row responded to a serious house fire in Nutley; when crews arrived they found a well-developed fire but it was not clear that everyone was out of the property and therefore crews were committed in BA; during the firefighting, the OIC withdrew all crews and subsequently there was an explosion which the initial investigation concluded was as the result of an oxygen cylinder used for medical purposes, rupturing violently. The investigation is continuing to establish all the facts and it is too early to determine the precise cause; three firefighters were taken to hospital but pleasingly, all were released on the same day with no serious injuries reported. 

The animal rescue unit from Crowborough supported by firefighters from Barcombe were called out to an incident where a horse was trapped in a stable; crews had to dismantle to stable door, whilst looking after the horse's welfare before leading the animal to safety. 

Firefighters from Hastings were called out to a serious fire at a property in St Leonard's, having to use jets, CAFS and hose reels to extinguish the fire; it is believed the fire may have started accidentally after a candle was left on a TV set; the Service has sent out a warning and advice to householders about the dangers from candles in the home with advice on how to use candles safely.  

My local superheroes from Seaford were called out to an RTC in Chyngton Gardens, supported by a crew from Newhaven, and came across two vehicles with one person trapped; firefighters freed the casualty and handed them into the care of their Ambulance colleagues; I always sleep safely in my bed knowing I have my local crew at Station 07 looking after me.

Crews from Preston Circus responded to an incident at the local fish and chip shop in Moulscombe with firefighters wearing BA used one hose reel to extinguish the fire and then a PPV can to clear smoke and heat from the premises.

This Sunday, Hove will be rocking with an Emergency Services 999 Day on Hove Lawns so please invite your family and friends to what will be a great day out, there will be lots of demonstrations, a chance to meet local firefighters, community safety staff and our volunteers and don't forget the sunscreen as we're due for a hot one!!

The Ridge will also be holding their Open Day on Saturday, always popular with local people there will be lots to see so come along for a great day out.

Finally, well done to Belfast for hosting the World Police and Firefighter Games; this has been a great success with competitors from around the globe enjoying their time in Belfast - and after competing they can enjoy the delights of an 'Ulster Fry' one of the world's outstanding breakfasts!!!