Friday, 11 October 2013

CFO blog 11 October 2013

Despite the very best efforts of crews from Eastbourne and Pevensey, sadly we saw a fatal fire in Eastbourne this week. Crews responded swiftly and managed to rescue an elderly female from the property, but although firefighters and paramedics worked extremely hard to save the casualty, their efforts were in vain. We send our condolences to her family. Crews spent some time at the scene with fire investigators and carried our home safety visits in neighbouring properties. 

Crews from Station 12 Uckfield responded to a collision involving two vehicles near Maresfield were there was one casualty who was rescued by firefighters. Paramedics from SECAmb were on the scene with the casualty being taken to hospital.  Firefighters from Hove were called out to a house fire in Hangleton where they found a fire on the upper floor; crews wearing BA entered the building with a hosereel to extinguish the fire with one casualty being treated for smoke inhalation with firefighters then using a positive pressure ventilation fan to clear the property of smoke.

Congratulations to our local Lewes MP Norman Baker who has been promoted from his position at the Department of Transport to work with Secretary of State Teresa May at the Home Office; Norman was a well know East Sussex County Councillor  before becoming an MP and was involved in recent discussions with the DofT when they changed the funding arrangements for maritime firefighting. 

All of those 'petrol heads' who are avid followers of Top Gear and know about the Pagani Zonda, the Bugatti Veyron and the other super cars so loved by Jeremy Clarkson and his sidekicks Captain Slow and the Hamster will no doubt have stared wide eyed at Richard Noble's latest adventure to build a car that will travel at over 1000 mph although not on our beloved M25!  30 years after the success of Thrust 2 which set a new land speed record on over 633 mph, Noble has got together a team to challenge engineering and technology and the limits of human endurance with Bloodhound SSC.

They have a great website which is really inspiring for anyone who wants to understand more about engineering; this is a discipline that is sometimes not seen as 'cool' and in a field in which the UK once led the world, we are falling behind many other countries. One of Noble's aims is to inspire the next generation of engineers and to encourage more young people to study the sciences and engineering. I hope he succeeds as a report by the OECD found that nearly a quarter of adults in the UK have maths skills no better than a 10 year old and in a table of 24 major countries, ranked the UK 21st for numeracy and 22nd for literacy. 

This week's news that Royal Mail was being sold has seen an almost unprecedented interest in people wanting to buy shares.  The Royal Mail is one of those institutions we have all grown up with and I think it’s great that you can write a letter and stick it in a post box before midday with a first class stamp and it will arrive at the address the very next day. Posties do a great job, out in all weathers and they are proud of their reputation. I delivered the post as a summer holiday job and my mum worked for a number of years when she had a young family delivering the Christmas post.  In this age of email and instant messaging, the Royal Mail has suffered from the competitive environment with fewer people writing letters, although I still enjoy writing a letter and receiving one, especially if it is hand written. I hope that the privatisation does not see any reduction in the service and that any new owner makes the necessary investment to ensure people in remote communities still get a daily post; I spent many hours watching Postman Pat videos with my son and have always had an affection for our postal service.

My week:

* heard the sad news that my old CFO Ian 'Eddie' Edwards has sadly passed away after a long illness. A much respected man who will be sadly missed; my deepest condolences to Eddie's family. Eddie was my Chief in Bedfordshire before I moved down to East Sussex and was a great bloke (despite being a mad keen Crystal Palace fan!)

*. went to Alistair Stoneham's funeral to pay our respects and to offer our support to Justin and Damian; a fantastic turnout from Alistair's many friends and retired firefighters with standing room only to listen to the tributes to a much loved family man and a much liked friend and colleague.

*. spent most of Friday doing media interviews in response to the continuing legal process with regards to Marlie Farm. We have been informed that the Fire Authority's insurers are seeking to arrange a meeting which I sincerely hope will finally reach a resolution; our thoughts continue to be with Brian and Geoff's families and those who were injured at the incident.

*. attended a course to develop my skills in coaching staff which will hopefully support their learning and development; I have had a lot of support from the L&OD team in ESFRS and we have a good network of internal coaches and mentors who are able to provide support and assistance to help staff on their personal development plans.

*. had a discussion with our Chairman Cllr. Howson who is now a member of the Fire Services Management Committee (FSMC) at the Local Government Association and sits on two national committees looking at future strategies on sprinklers and the emergency services communication project. This will provide an opportunity for our Chairman to contribute towards national discussions and influence elected members on the LGA FSMC

*. meeting with PO team to review our contingency planning arrangements, an update on the Sussex Control Project and to look at our IT infrastructure; we need to ensure that our systems meet our business needs as I know how frustrating it can be for staff if they don't.

* had to do my on-line questionnaire on data protection and with our clerks all getting 100% there was no pressure!

*. attended the CFOA Firefit Conference where I met with occupational health and fitness advisors from across the country, good to see Matt Starkey and Louise Waghorn catching up with their professional colleagues and a lot of very interesting presentation on health, fitness and wellbeing.

*. we have been involved in the national older persons week and an aging society has been the theme this year of our Cross Sector Leadership Exchange. There will be many challenges presented by this and I know we can play a real role in supporting aging communities.

And finally, I met with Karan Calman one of our community Safety Advisors who will be leaving ESFRS to take up a new career opportunity with a well know high street optician. Karen was one of the original Home Safety Advisors in 2006 and has been a real asset to our Service and has been key in developing our community safety and home safety initiatives; I will be very sorry to see her leave ESFRS as I know Karen is one of those people who always did a lot more than was in her job description and there is absolutely no doubt our local communities are much safer due to the work of Karen and her CFS colleagues; we send Karen our very best wishes for the future.