Friday, 27 September 2013

Chief Fire Officer's blog 27 September

I would imagine that most people in East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service were extremely disappointed to find ourselves involved in national strike action this week, the first national strike in nearly 11 years.  As I mentioned last week, I sincerely hope this matter (a dispute between the Fire Brigades Union and the Government) is resolved very quickly. I must pay a compliment to everyone who ensured we were able to provide an emergency response service during the strike period on Wednesday and I am very pleased we are now back to our normal working arrangements and our firefighters are doing the job that they do very well.  For my part, it was the first time I have worn a breathing apparatus (BA) set at a working job for many years and the very first time I have used CAFS (foam) at a working job; and how well the CAFS worked, although the road closure on the A23 would not have been popular with the commuter traffic! (You can find out more below.)

On the wider stage, I would want to extend our sympathies to those caught up in the terrible atrocity in Kenya. It is difficult to say much about such a brutal act with so many innocent people losing their lives and we should pay a tribute to the Kenyan emergency services, particularly the hospitals who had to cope with such a scene. 

This week marks a major anniversary, it being the 40th birthday of the legendary Wigan Casino; as a southern fan of northern soul I spent a few weekends at the Torch in Tunstall and the Catacombs in Wolverhampton in addition to a visit to the famous venue in Wigan, once the most famous nightclub in the world, knocking Studio 54 in New York off the top spot.  My favourite venue (as it was a lot nearer) was the California in Dunstable where they had some fabulous soul bands and we had some great nights, but the northern clubs did rock and fair play to the Wigan Casino, it was just about the best around. Other great venues included the Rum Runner in Birmingham although that was a bit later, but you can't beat northern soul if you want music to dance to!

My week:

* interview with BBC South East where they asked about pensions, industrial action and our contingency plans; Chairman Cllr. Phil Howson is leading on behalf of the Fire Authority, calling on us all to look out for older and vulnerable members of the community and to make sure they are not at risk from fire (Read more in our press release page). I also did a TV interview with Meridian who wanted to know about our contingency plans, how many pumps we had on the run and what we would do if we had a major incident. It was interesting chatting to the cameraman afterwards as our media companies are cutting back on staff, a few years ago you would have a cameraman and a reporter and sometimes an assistant, but in 2013 it's a one person show operating the camera and doing the interview. Th BBC had a reporter operating the camera and Meridian had a cameraman also doing the interview; changing work practices everywhere!

*. early start on Wednesday as I had a number of radio interviews to do and then off to the City to meet up with the contingency crews to cover the industrial action. After detailing our roles we checked the appliance and then did a few drills and prepared for whatever was to come.  This included a standby to Lewes and just before we were due to stand down we got an over-the-border call to a bus on fire on the A23 near Pyecombe, which is on West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service’s ground.  When we arrived the bus was almost fully involved in fire; I was one of the BA crew and we got a CAFS jet off, the bus was going well so we got a second CAFS jet to work and managed to extinguish the fire before any damage was caused to the road surface, although the bus was pretty much gutted. WSFRS crews backed us up with hosereels but the CAFS was really effective. After we had done our work and cleaned up the road, the Police were able to open one lane as the traffic had become a real problem.

*. Spoke with the Chief Constable about a range of issues including opportunities to share sites, how Sussex Police are working more closely with Surrey Police and if this is a model we could learn from and then looking more medium term, at the options for Fire, Police and Ambulance Services working together across the whole of the South East region

*. went up to STC to see our 'Old Friends', these are retired ESFRS staff and we meet about 4 times a year which is a great opportunity to catch up, share stories and look at old photos; Guy Bowers has put together a fantastic collection of photos which tell the story of ESFRS including the old county borough brigades and ESFB over many decades; fantastic photos of old rescues, hook ladders, wheeled escaped, proto-sets and even some horse drawn appliances; thanks to STC, M&CC staff and the Battle rope rescue crew for helping out the Officers who organised a great day out

*. dropped in at Stn 12 to have a chat with the duty crew and CFS staff, have a cup of tea and a general catch-up

*. meeting at Royal Sussex Hospital with Chief Execs from across Sussex to talk about safeguarding and child exploitation issues. Sussex Police gave a presentation about a recent criminal case in Oxfordshire and the lessons for all of us across Sussex as to our role and responsibilities and how each of our Services can help protect vulnerable people and in particular children;

*. CMT meeting, long day until 7.00pm lots to discuss with a presentation about our future IMD Strategy and how we need to prepare now for the future, also the capital asset strategy which caused much discussion and then onto our future funding provisions; there is a lot going on at the moment as we prepare reports for the Fire Authority to consider over the next few months

*. I went down to Eastleigh for the funeral of a very dear friend, who was in her early 50s but struck down by that terrible disease, breast cancer; we wore our 'Pink with Pride', sadly I have lost some very dear and close friends from breast cancer and it is a charity that I will always do my very best to support; if you do get the opportunity, please donate to cancer research

*. was invited to a meeting at the University of Bath to discuss knowledge exchange and how the University wanted to work with private and public sector organisations using the academic research facilities at the University to support projects initiated through the private and public sector; we are already involved in a collaborative project with world leading researchers from the University's physical fitness and occupational medical research teams and would want to look at how we can draw down funding for further research.

* visit to Mayfield on Monday evening to have a chat with the crews who told me a rather amusing story about when the carnival came to a close, but - for those that know him - I'll leave Neil Walter to elaborate!  They were all a bit worn out having been up most of the night at a fire.

* went to see the crews at Stn 14 who had the appliance out in Mayfield High Street as a warm up for the street carnival later in the day. The firefighters proved to be a hit with many people stopping to have a chat and thanks to our local volunteer Trevor Green for supporting the day. I had a walk through the village and came across the local W.C. which must have one of the most stunning views in East Sussex looking across the down to Broad Oak; a definite entry for the loo-with-a-view awards!!!

Earlier this week a call was received by the ambulance service requesting assistance at an incident in St. Leonards, where crews from Bohemia Road responded to assist at an incident where a female casualty had fallen 5ft into a basement storage area.

Firefighters from Hove, Preston Circus and Roedean along with the Control Unit from Lewes responded to the fire on the fourth floor of a nine-storey building with the initial call indicating the need to put into place high rise procedures.  Crews using CAFS and a hose reel jet responded to a fire at a property in Marchants Drive and found a two storey building well alight, with further crews wearing BA checking adjoining building to see whether the fire had spread and caused further damage.

Firefighters from Crowborough and Wadhurst were mobilised to the scene of a road traffic collision involving a car and an oil tanker at Bells Yew Green, having to cut one person free from the wreckage.

A fire investigation took place following a fire at The Old Polegate Station Restaurant in Polegate with crews from Hailsham and Eastbourne using hose reel jets to tackle a fire at the two storey building. The cause was found to be accidental.

This Saturday please come and support firefighters from Heathfield who will be running out over 26 miles of hose in a charity fund raising effort.  They have been training hard but would welcome your support and encouragement and also appreciate if you could run our a few lengths for them!

And if you have any spare time after that, don’t forget that ESFRS will be taking part in the ‘World’s Biggest Coffee Morning’ in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support on Monday.  Pip Budd would welcome donations of any baked or bought goods or even a spare pair of hands on the day!

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

Friday, 20 September 2013

CFO's blog 20 Sept 2013

Unfortunately the main news this week from my perspective is the decision of the Fire Brigades Union to announce a strike next Wednesday; I think we had all hoped that continuing dialogue could have led to a resolution and we could all have returned to focusing our efforts on what we do best, protecting our local communities.  But we have to acknowledge that the membership of the FBU have the right to engage in lawful industrial action and that many of our firefighters will be taking part in strike action on Wednesday. We still do however, have a duty as far as we are able, to provide an emergency response and this we will do.  We will continue to provide our mobilising, community safety services and protection services and our support staff will ensure ESFRS continues to function.  I know this will be a difficult and challenging time for many staff and we should focus on returning to normal operations as soon as we can.  I hope this dispute is resolved as soon as possible and we can get back to doing what we do best and that is driving down risk and making our communities safer. 

I must also say that I am delighted with the professionalism of our staff, who despite the planned industrial action, are continuing to provide an excellent service and are not letting the current difficulties get in the way of the great job they do every day. I am also pleased with the professional way in which the FBU Chairman and Secretary have sought to engage in dialogue with me and my senior team despite the external pressures that are often put on them.

Is it the trip of a lifetime or a great publicity stunt; with people looking for more and more exotic holiday destinations, late last week over 200,000 people had applied for a one-way trip to Mars in 2023; now this seems a bit of a drastic measure to get away from the austerity measures we are facing, although you won't need to take any sunscreen, just gamma radiation protection!!!
Whilst I have always enjoyed venturing to foreign fields, there is much of planet earth that I would prefer to visit before I embark on a trip to the 'Red Planet'.  Mind you there are quite a number of people I would recommend and top of my list would be the FIFA reps who awarded the 2020 World Cup to Qatar; I've got no problem with a Middle East country hosting the World Cup, but during the summer when temperatures are 40 degrees, what were they thinking of; so go spend some time on Mars, although I'm not sure whether this would result in them changing their mind and awarding the World Cup to Neptune.

My week:

*. staff meeting at HQ to discuss the outcome of the Fire Authority meeting and their agreements on the contingency plans for industrial action where we will have a number of pumps crewed by staff including Officers not involved in any strike;  we are still trying to reach a local agreement with the FBU to implement the TUC protocol which could provide a limited number of pumps to be crewed during any industrial action, but so far we have not been able to get an agreement with the FBU

*. had a 'coaching' session with a senior manager from the NHS that I am supporting and very interesting to hear about the challenges he is facing particularly on influencing outside the NHS, income generation and parts of the NHS having a more commercial outlook

*.   discussion with a colleague CFO who is working on a merger with another FRS; he wanted to understand the challenges we had faced with our merger proposals, local and national political issues and how to manage the differences in Council Tax - I hope he has more success as from a professional perspective, I remain convinced that a Sussex FRS would be more resilient and cost effective and would be able to reduce costs and meet the financial challenges we are facing in a different way

*.  had a number of meetings at HQ with the PO team and the Treasurer where we discussed in great detail the report from our Auditors which are now Ernst & Young - they take a different approach to the Audit Commission and bring a private sector focus; also met with the FBU to discuss the industrial action

*. met with Elizabeth Curtis, our Comms and Media lead; Elizabeth is making some great contacts with local media and is looking at ways to promote the excellent work of ESFRS including Twitter, Facebook and other social media; also had to do a 'piece to camera' advising the public and local businesses in case of any strike action; spoke again with the FBU as it is crucial we maintain dialogue during what is a difficult time for everyone, and we remain  hopeful that a resolution can be found before any strike takes place

* attended a meeting of the Conservative Group on Brighton & Hove City Council; I was invited to speak to local Councillors, prospective local Councillors and also prospective Parliamentary candidates to update them on the work of ESFRS, how we engage and work with the City Council, initial proposals to meet the Fire Authority's savings targets over the next 5 years which will have an implication on the City, contingency plans and our community safety work. The Councillors were really impressed with the work our staff do right across the City and wanted to express their appreciation of the work ESFRS undertake to make the City safer

*. meeting of CFOs from the South East region to discuss a range of issues including the collaborative work on national operational guidance and standard operating procedures; 22 FRS’s across the country are now signed up to this new way of working which should support the knowledge and understanding of firefighters in their operational role which should lead to safer operational practices

*. had a meeting with colleagues to discuss the Fire Professional Framework which was launched this week at the CFOA Conference and how this can support the learning and development of our staff; I was one of the speakers and provided an update to the delegates on key people and HR issues including literacy and numeracy, qualifications, our future relationship with the College and also the work we are doing with the University of Bath on fitness standards; the Fire Minister Brandon Lewis spoke at the Conference with key messages that all Services will have to deliver greater value for money, move towards an increasing use of RDS firefighters and a reduction in wholetime firefighters, which was part of Sir Ken Knight's efficiencies review and with the focus of our work to be on prevention and protection.

*. heard from M.P. Tobias Ellwood and Adam Simmonds the PCC for Northants about the changes they wanted to see in the FRS, working out of a joint emergency services headquarters and with multi skilled staff having a range of emergency response skills which may eventually lead to one emergency service; I did challenge the lack of leadership at Government level and the lack of support for a joint Sussex FRS which I have said on a number of occasions,  would provide for a more cost effective and efficient service across Sussex.

Earlier this week firefighters from Preston Circus responded to a fire at a property in Hollingdean, Brighton crews used a Co2 extinguisher to put out a small fire in the kitchen before using a Positive Pressure Ventilation fan to disperse smoke from the property. The majority of property fires we now attend start in the kitchen, mostly due to householders either becoming distracted whilst cooking, leaving cooking unattended or over filling pans when using cooking oils and fats.  Safe cooking is one of our home safety priorities and we must focus our efforts on reducing fires in the kitchen and last Saturday, firefighters from Hastings set up chip pan fire demonstrations in Warrior Square Gardens, to show onlookers what can happen if a chip pan catches alight and how best to deal with it. 

Crews from Hastings assisted in the rescue of a male casualty from the 4th floor of external scaffolding.  Firefighters used an aerial appliance and a basket stretcher to rescue the casualty who was then taken into the care of SECAmb.

Firefighters from Stn 01 supported by crews from surrounding stations were called to a fire at a recycling and waste management site at Greystone Quarry Lewes on 13 September, crews found two shredding units, each measuring approximately 10 metres by 20 metres, were alight.  Crews used foam and jets to extinguisher the fire, remaining on site for some considerable time. 

ERFRS continue to promote residential sprinkler systems with the Fire Authority agreeing a statement on sprinklers signed by Chairman Cllr. Phil Howson.  The Fire Authority will now lobby for there to be a legal requirement for sprinklers to be fitted in all premises where there is deemed to be a high fire risk and will work with local authorities across East Sussex and the City of Brighton & Hove to promote the fitting of smoke detectors in new and refurbished buildings.  Continuing our community safety drive, the Wealden Borough team are planning their electric blanket testing service for three days in October.  Last year this initiative resulted in 245 blankets tested, with 37% failing to meet safety standards. The sessions also provide an opportunity to receive friendly advice and information on home safety, house adaptations, energy efficiency, home security, fire prevention and local services.

This Saturday will see the last formal station open day of 2013 (it really is the end of the summer), when Mayfield firefighters will be in the High Street between 9.30am and 12.30pm as part of 'Mayfield’s Carnival', lots to do and a chance to meet and talk to the crews with local Watch Commander Neil Walter saying, "This family event will be a great chance to meet the firefighters and talk to them about fire safety and recruitment of retained firefighters. There will be a fire engine for children to look around and the chance to try their hand at firefighting by using a hosereel at a model of a house fire

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

Friday, 13 September 2013

Chief Fire Officer's blog 13 September 2013

Some good news on the job front with Jaguar LandRover going from strength to strength, with the announcement of 1700 new jobs and another 7000 in the supply chain in the West Midlands.  Jaguar LandRover is a great example of how an industry can transform and become a world beater; the UK car industry once one of our biggest employers, failed to adopt new working practices and was steam-rolled by overseas competitors; Jaguar were a perfect example and nearly went bust, but now under the ownership of the Indian Tata Group they are leading the way and good luck to them and the staff who have been prepared to embrace new working practices and are securing their employment. 

And what about High Speed2, is this a complete waste of public money or will it provide a boost to the economy and provide the infrastructure we need for the 21st century? Well a report out this week suggests it will generate £15 billion per year to the economy, and of course will generate thousands of new jobs in the construction and engineering industries; but there is still a lot of opposition, particularly from those who believe it will cause environmental damage.  I tend to be in favour, as much of our infrastructure is still based on the vision of the Victorians and has suffered from decades of underinvestment from successive Governments, but I just wish Government doesn't forget the South Coast; our rail network needs investment now as it is one of the busiest parts of the railway and yet it is a nonsense that it takes so long to get to London from Hastings, Eastbourne and Brighton. So my first campaign would be to get immediate improvement on the South Coast railway network before we spend any money on HS2.

My week.

*. went to the Firefighters Memorial Service in London a truly wonderful and always moving occasion; thanks to Neil Walter who carried the Service Standard with many others alongside the Pipe & Drum Band from Devon & Somerset FRS and the Colour Party from Staffordshire FRS; laid wreaths at the Memorial with the Wembridge family and the Kent family and laid a wreath on behalf of the Wicker family; the Memorial is adjacent to St Paul's and if you are ever in London it is always worth a visit; also accompanied Cllr. Stephanie Powell who also laid a wreath on behalf of her aunt who was a firewoman in the Second World War and was killed in a bombing raid.  Cllr Sheppard also attended on behalf of the Fire Authority. This week we also remembered our 343 fallen colleagues in the Fire Department of New York who lost their lives in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre 12 years ago; we should never forget their sacrifice nor the loss of 2996 lives in the attack on the USA on 11th September 2001.

*. meeting in London to plan the Cross Sector Leadership Programme for 2014 where the theme will be Public Value.  We are now getting the Voluntary Sector involved alongside FRS, Police and the NHS and also local government and the Civil Service which should really benefit the development of future public sector leaders

*. was invited to speak at the Fire Service College to a group of Officers from another FRS who were training over the weekend; a really useful opportunity and good to meet up with staff from other Services

*. meeting with PO team to discuss our contingency planning and resilience arrangements in preparation for a strike and also discussed the major problem with have had with our IT system; this has been extremely challenging for the IMD team who have been working all hours to rectify what is one of the biggest problems we have ever had; thanks to all staff for bearing with the difficulties you have had doing your work and thanks to the IMD team who have pulled out all the stops to find a solution

*. discussion with Surrey and West Sussex FRS on a proposal put forward by Surrey County Council along with the Police and FRS to work with Sussex Police, SECAmb and East and West Sussex FRS on a major collaborative project that could result in much closer working in a range of areas in coming years; Government Ministers are very keen to encourage this type of working and so we will be included in the discussion to see what could be achievable in coming years

*. attended a meeting at the FSC which was the first Customer Board meeting under the new College privatisation arrangements; I was asked to Chair the meeting with reps from local, central and devolved government and a number of other people who all have a stake in training and development at the College

*. met with Warwick Business School to discuss the Executive Leadership Programme for 2014 and any changes to the content; this programme is now in its 6th year and is proving really beneficial for senior FRS leaders with a number or students having subsequently been promoted to CFO, DCFO and ACFO posts

*. early meeting with the Chairman before the full Fire Authority meeting at HQ; there were a number of reports on the performance of ESFRS with Councillors considering options to meet our savings targets over the next 5 years, an update on the Sussex Control Project and the business continuity plans for the impending strike action notified to the Authority by the FBU

*. meeting with Red Watch at Stn 05 and a great opportunity to speak with the watch about a range of issues; slightly delayed as crew were called out to kitchen fire in Saltdean

Crews from Bexhill and Battle responded to an incident in Bexhill to assist the Coastguard after a women became stuck in mud on the beach; firefighters arrived to find that the incoming tide was now up to the casualty's waist, but worked to free the woman from the mud and remove her to safety and to the care of SECAmb paramedics.  Station Commander Bexhill, Scott Hartnoll said "We would like to take this opportunity to remind people that whilst walking on the beach during low water, there could be soft areas of mud and sand, which could cause you to become trapped."

Last Friday crews from Hastings pitched up outside the Morrisons store in the town to carry out a chip pan fire demonstration and to promote the benefits of using frozen oven chips, as opposed to frying.  Crews have out fire  safety advice and frozen chips donated by the store and despite the rain the event  was hailed a huge success and allowed firefighters to meet with around 100 people, including some of the most vulnerable members of the community, in the hope of reducing the number of kitchen fires in the town and this Saturday the crews will be out in Warrior Square with the chip pan demonstration unit  providing advice to local residents and to try and reduce the number of accidental dwelling fires in St. Leonards where over two thirds of the fires are cooking related.

The heavy rain earlier this week resulted in a number of weather related emergencies with crews from the City called out 3 times in the space of half an hour; a lightning strike triggered a burglar alarm at a premises in Court Farm Road, with the specialist alarm that had been installed at the premises filling the whole property with smoke after it had actuated; the alarm is designed to set off cosmetic smoke to deter intruders from entering the property. Crews from Hove were called out to a kitchen fire in Portslade; swift action by firefighters ensured the fire was quickly extinguished, although one person required hospital treatment.

ESFRS have recently advised householders of the importance of having adequate home insurance after a number of fires where the occupies have not had building or contents insurance; we recognise the difficult economic times and the financial choices people have to make, but the recent spate of fires have shown how the effects of fire can have long term impacts for householders and their families if they do not have home insurance.

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

Friday, 6 September 2013

6 September 2013

This week saw the funeral service for Firefighter Stephen Hunt of Greater Manchester FRS; ACO Cheryl Rolph represented ESFRS along with Firefighter Andrew Petch and Watch Commander Neil Walter who carried the Service Standard; our thoughts are with Stephen's family.

On another sad note, we lost one of this country's most well-known TV personalities and interviewer of the famous, David Frost, whose most iconic moment came when interviewing Richard Nixon.  An extraordinary talent, Frost was able to get beneath the veneer of many of those who he interviewed and bring us some of the most interesting and informative TV of the past 30 years.

Just got back from a long weekend away with my son, a bit of 'bonding' before he goes away to Central and South America to get involved in some charitable projects - we had a great time in Prague (apart from a little disappointment over football) and saw the Prague '999 day' with their equivalent of Sussex Safer Roads Partnership.  They were demonstrating the dangers of not wearing seatbelts using a simulator very similar to the one we use, but they also had a 'rollover' simulator which we had to try; what a great bit of kit as it clearly lets you feel what it's like to be in a car that rolls over a couple of times; I'll suggest to the SSRP that they get one.

I tried to use the latest social media 'Vine' to capture the experience but nearly lost my phone when the car rolled!!! If you haven't got into 'Vine' yet, it’s a great free app. We also saw the Prague firefighters showing local kids around their appliance, a Mercedes and I had to have a look; there's no doubt it was well equipped but nothing as comprehensive as our Echo appliances and their firekit was similar to the Nomex PPE we used to wear.

Prague seemed to me to be in the style of many other mainland European capitals and illustrated to me some of the differences between our neighbouring European countries and the UK.  Whilst there is nothing at all wrong with that, it perhaps goes someway to explaining why we can be at odds with others in the EC on some issues.  

Staying with an international theme, earlier this week the BBC reported Vodafone were selling their stake in a U.S. telecoms group for £84 billion, yes £84 billion pounds. Founded in Berkshire and with its HQ based in London, you might expect it would be liable for UK tax. But as the US business is owned by a Dutch holding company, it's paying $5 billion in the US instead.  I would have to pay capital gains tax here if I sold an asset, the question is why is Vodafone treated differently?  

My week: 

  • Spoke with Chief Executives and senior officers of other local authorities and services in County and City to update them on the national industrial dispute with the Fire Brigades Union and also wrote to our local MPs; continuing discussion with the Fire Authority about local arrangements and they will be liaising with the national employers representatives.
  • Went for a lovely breakfast at Station 11 which was Crew Commander Bob Newton's last night shift with his watch after more than 40 years in East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service; Bob will be retiring after a long and distinguished career and he will be much missed by his many friends and colleagues and also the local community he has spent a lifetime serving
  • Discussed the latest proposals for Newhaven. We bought a site for potential redevelopment last year. Since this time we have been talking to partners to discuss the possibility of a multi-agency build. The Fire Authority are keen to work with others and ESFRS will continue to look at all options although to answer questions recently raised during station visits, the likelihood of a merger with West Sussex FRS seems extremely remote.
  • Finally put together the agenda for the CFA Conference in Bedfordshire next month; East Sussex FRS are the co-ordinators for the 24 Combined Fire Authorities and arrange meetings with the Chairman from across the country and also with the Fire Minister.

Most of this week has been spent on operational refresher training, compartment fire training using main jets and CAFS, RTC, working at heights, ladders and pumps, water safety and a refresher in general firefighting; also had a session on knots and lines but found out we don't teach this as I remember and when I went to put the chair knot on the short extension ladder for lowering by line underfoot, I was corrected by the team!!!  Water safety at Weir Wood Reservoir was really useful, but I particularly enjoyed the day at STC and got a lot from our training instructors who are really top class.

For a bit of light relief I listened to the football transfers talking place; now I know there are a lot of Arsenal fans in ESFRS and I hope they are not too disappointed to learn that their expected star buy Mesut Ozil has failed his medical and won't be joining the Gunners; apparently he suffered an asthma attack brought on when someone opened the trophy cabinet!!!

This week crews from Heathfield and Uckfield responded to a farm fire in Isfield where a large dung heap of approximately 100 tonnes was well alight; that's a big pile of dung!! Crews had to use the water carrier due to a lack of nearby water supplies and after a lot of hard work on a very warm day, the crews managed to extinguish the fire after about 8 hours.

Eastbourne crews were called out to an RTC in Willingdon Trees involving two vehicles, with firefighters working with SECAmb paramedics to free one person.  

At another RTC near to the Boship Roundabout where two vehicles had collided, crews from Hailsham and Herstmonceux had to tackle a fire in one car where one person was still trapped; in all, three people were rescued by firefighters, assisted by paramedics and police officers, with one person taken to hospital in the air ambulance with the two other casualties taken to hospital by ambulance.

I always like to close on a good note and was very pleased to see that despite the terrible accident in Kent with more than 130 vehicles involved, there were no fatalities; a very traumatic incident for everyone involved and a reminder for road users to always be on their guard when driving; one second of distraction can have enormous implications.