Saturday, 5 October 2013

CFO's blog 5 October 2013

The week saw the end of the political party conferences and I can't say I've heard anything that suggests the austerity measures won't continue, whoever wins the election in 2015.  All the parties made their pitch to win voters, but after listening to some of the speeches and reading reports, they are all saying the same thing; we need to reduce public spending and get the economy moving.

I was pleased to see that all the parties mentioned the shortage of affordable housing and I am fully behind plans to build more starter homes.  This is as important as creating more jobs, as we must give young people job opportunities and it seems to me that more house building will mean more brickies, chippies, sparkies and plumbers, as well as a host of related trades; and if people buy a house, they will want to furnish it leading to retail jobs.  But the drawback can often come from local planning authorities and we have to make sure we aren't part of the problem here in East Sussex, as whilst we live in a beautiful part of the country with the Downs and Ashdown Forest, there is still plenty of land where we could build without spoiling our green and pleasant land.

There was one politician I did fundamentally disagree with that was the individual who was reported as saying there is too much red tape for house builders and he found it bizarre that house builders in Wales would have to fit sprinklers and this would cost too much.  My response would be that everyone should get right behind our calls for every new house to be built with a sprinkler system and we should all be lobbying local Councillors, planners and MPs to ensure they support sprinklers in every new home. Sprinklers will save lives so please get behind the campaign which is supported East Sussex Fire Authority to have sprinklers fitted in new homes.  

It's all looking good for the London clubs all making strong starts to the season with the Super Blues just coming in a bit off form; Spurs were lucky last week to get a point and the Gooners are surprising their own fans (but it won't last); but as for the two Manc clubs, they must be wondering where there next win will come from!!! Good to see ex-Chelsea players on missionary work up in the NW and giving them a bit of light relief from years of underachievement; but come May you already know Jose will be holding the trophy aloft!!!

My week

*. went to a meeting of the College Management Board where we discussed the first 6 months under new ownership; you can see the changes in refurbishment to accommodation and there is now a fire station from which firefighter trainee courses will be run with students accommodated on the fire station to give them a much better understanding of the real workplace; a new 100 bed accommodation block should be open by next Spring with refurbishment and extension to the BA block so lots happening and the future does look positive

*. had the pleasure (well I think it was a pleasure!) to go across to Stn 21 to meet the Heathfield crews who were taking part in an event to raise funds for The Firefighters Charity and other local charities. It involved running out over 26 miles of 70mm hose; I got roped in to run out a few lengths, and it fair made me sweat!  No problem running out the hose, it was making it up that caused the joints to ache!!  Crews were fantastic, raising over £500, but due to a slight miscalculation, I understand they ran out about 34 miles of hose in the end; the firefighter with the calculator was not the most popular bloke on Saturday evening!!!  But thanks to Matt Emery for organising and setting up such a fantastic challenge.

*. was at the FSC to take part in the assessment centre for the Executive Leadership Programme; 34 senior officers went through the ADC over 3 days with assessors drawn for across the country including the NHS and Police

* met with the CFO Dave Ramscar, from Lincolnshire FRS who is the CFOA lead for RDS matters; we discussed the work programme over the next two years to look at key issues for the RDS workforce, the implications of the Knight Review, conditions of service, duty systems for RDS staff, employers releasing staff to be RDS firefighters and government policies which effect existing RDS staff and potential new recruits

*. meeting with the MD of the Fire Service College to discuss proposals for the  recruitment of a new Director of Training and OD, the planned new progression courses that will link into the ELP and proposals for interoperability training with other emergency services

*. had very preliminary discussions to look at options for our building assets including HQ and Fire Stations to consider whether we could make better use of our existing sites or whether we could co-locate onto other sites; there are now a number of proposals in other FRSs to either merge or to look at working more closely with the Police; Northants FRS have now co-located Police HQ and there has been discussion about the Police & Crime Commissioners taking over the running of the Fire & Rescue Service; we have not had these talks in ESFRS but there is a clear direction from Government for emergency services to co-locate, share resources and do much more joint working on the ground

*. attended seminar for our Fire Authority at HQ which was led by the Chairman Cllr. Howson; Members gave a clear direction to Officers to come up with options to meet our savings target including a revised wholetime establishment; we also discussed the proposed new build at Newhaven, collaboration with Sussex & Surrey  FRS, Police and SECAmb

* very helpful meeting with officers at HQ to discuss how they can become more involved with decision making and influencing the way we move forward over the next 5 years; lots of helpful comments from the team and a real energy to get involved in what we all know will be a very challenging few years

*. late meeting at HQ with the PO team to discuss how the Sussex Control project is progressing; the building part of the project is going well and on schedule and we are now preparing for the Comms, IT and infrastructure part of the project later this year; also discussed IT at HQ and the refurbishment of Crowborough Fire Station.

Just over a week ago, crews from Wadhurst were called out to a serious property fire at a large residential property which resulted in 6 pumps and an aerial appliance being deployed to tackle the blaze.  Firefighters used CAFS, main jets and hosereels to bring the fire under control; severe damage was cause to the roof and upper floors any the blaze.  Firefighters from Lewes and Newhaven responded to a fire in Lewes High Street, where crews wearing BA located the fire with the use of a thermal imaging camera. Firefighters from Bohemia Road and The Ridge responded to a property fire at Three Oaks where they were supported by paramedics from SECAmb who were called to help with one female casualty.

Crews from Bohemia Road, The Ridge, Bexhill and Battle responded to a road traffic collision involving 3 vehicles in Little Common earlier this week where one person was trapped; firefighters worked to free the casualty who was then transferred to hospital by Ambulance.

The BBC have thanked staff from ESFRS for all their help in contributing to another series of Real Rescues. Series 10 started on Monday 30 September and goes on to Friday 25 October 2013 on BBC1 from 11.00 to 11.45am (20 episodes in total). This series will also be repeated the following morning on BBC2 around 7.00am. The episode called 'In the drink' shown earlier this week featured an RTC involving a car going into a river in Pevensey.

Congratulations to the "Macmillian Bakers", particularly Pip who has taken up where Mary left off; some absolutely delicious cakes baked by lots of people over the weekend and over £250 raised; that's a lot of cake!!”