Friday, 20 December 2013

Firefighters from Barcombe, Uckfield and Lewes responded to a serious fire at a property in Barcombe Mills early on Saturday morning; the first crews found a well-developed fire in a two storey property but made a swift attack on the fire and rescued one elderly female from the ground floor. Crews gave CPR and first aid for some time before paramedics took over; sadly despite the great efforts of firefighters and paramedics the casualty did not recover from the severe effects of smoke inhalation. 
Crews from Hove and Preston Circus responded to an incident in Portslade where 3 cars were involved in a collision is Locks Hill; firefighters worked to free one person trapped in the wreckage with the casualty being handed into the care of paramedics.  City crews were called out to the NCP car park in Russell Square where it was reported a number of people were shut in the lift; crews soon had the lift doors open and found 14 people inside who were all released without any harm being done.
Hastings firefighters supported by crews from the east of the County were called out to a serious fire at a fish and chip shop in Rock-a-Nore Road; crews wearing BA and using compressed air foam and hosereels managed to get blaze under control; in total 16 BA sets were used at the incident. 
This week we see the long awaited first report on future airport capacity with a second runway at Gatwick still in the running.  As more and more people travel by air, it is absolutely clear we need more runway capacity and on the information I have seen, Gatwick looks a good option to build a second runway and it will bring much needed jobs into the area.  The 'Boris Island' scheme has still not been discounted and there will be endless debate and discussion before a decision is made, and then we will build one runway - during the same period China will build over 80 new airports!!!  How competitive will the UK be in 2030 and what prospects for jobs and economic growth will there be if we continue with our restrictive planning rules, local opposition because 'we don't want that development near to where we live' and HS2 at probably its 5th appeal!!!
When will we ever start to build the new homes that we desperately need.  I am all in favour of local people having a voice but there also need to be some strong leadership if we are to create a sustainable economy, so let's just agree to build a second runway at Gatwick, confirm that HS2 will go ahead and build at least the same number of houses as the French do; this will provide much needed jobs, the homes we so desperately need and build a 21st century infrastructure instead of relying on the brilliant vision of the Victorians over a century ago. 
It was very pleasing to see one of the biggest a private sector companies held to account for overcharging the Government and having to pay back over £68million; reports state that Serco continued to charge for people who were in jail or who had died; this is quite astonishing as the public sector is often criticised for lax processes and that we should learn from the private sector. Well I can't say I am keen to learn from this example - we should however not be too quick to damn a whole industry just because of a few bad examples (although the impact of the poor leadership in some parts of the financial industry have had a catastrophic effect on the country); in the same vein, just because some parts of the public sector have performed poorly, we should also celebrate their successes, and the Fire & Service continually delivers high quality services with an outstanding track record in prevention and an excellent emergency response service. 
Can't wait for the weekend and Strictly, it's nail biting time and I'll be glued to the TV watching Natalie, Sophie, Abbey and Susanna; I thought Patrick was really unlucky last week, a bit of a stitch up, so this week my money's on Abbey.
My week:
*. went across to Stn 1 for their 'Open Evening' and what a great event; lots of school kids making badges and finding about home and road safety; thanks to the crews, our volunteers and police for making the event such a success; also hot soup, cake and mince pies and a chance to meet Santa; I bought a raffle ticket hoping to get a chance to sit on Santa's knee and switch on the Christmas lights, but my number didn't come up; a bonus for Santa I think!!!
*. spent Friday and Saturday night as part of the contingency crews in the City; pleased to see that our local communities were vigilant and kept safe during the strike with very few incidents
*. went across to see crews at The Ridge and Bohemia Rd. and talked about the budget, industrial action, and proposals being discussed with the Fire Authority for operational resources; good opportunity to talk with firefighters about a range of issues and also note the culinary skills on show at Stn 9 where their Christmas dinner with honey glazed roasted vegetables smelt delicious!!
*. saw firefighters at Crowborough and Uckfield and had similar discussion at the previous day in Hastings; also chatted with Crowborough about their newly refurbished station which they were very pleased with and also talked to the swift water rescue crew who had been deployed to East Anglia earlier this month when we had the North Sea storm surge; Uckfield were keen to talk about options for the day crewed stations and fire setter advisors
*. one of our staff who has served with ESFRS for over 44 years will be retiring this week; Doug Moody who has been a stalwart of the Service is finally hanging up his axe and his fire safety files and looking forward to spending more time on the golf course and topping up his tan in Spain, but I know there will be many of his colleagues with Doug's mobile number on speed dial just in case they get that difficult fire safety problem in the City!!! Our very best wishes Doug for a long and happy retirement
*. had a cup of tea and catch up with the duty crew at Hove and Stuart Black didn't once mention all of the skiing holidays he has got planned
*. met up with the Preston Circus 'choir' who were outside the station for their annual charity fundraising event, with Christmas Carols and other festive songs encouraging local people to give generously to a worthy cause; fantastic effort with nearly £3000 raised; also we are seeking a keen volunteer to train with Mick Powell on the infernal money counting machine that only Mick knows how to operate!!!
*. attended a meeting with Surrey and Sussex Police, SECAmb and Surrey and West Sussex FRSs to discuss how we can all work more closely to deliver efficiencies and savings and to look at opportunities for creating 'joint service' teams; the discussions included more long term ambitions to discuss what would be realistic over the next 5 years, although this will be for each Authority and the PCCs to agree when a business case is developed.

Eastbourne firefighters have been doing some great work with the charity 'Contact the Elderly' and hosted a tea at the community fire station for elderly people who are living alone.  Crews offered homemade cakes, tea and coffee and more importantly, the chance to have a good old natter.  It is a sad fact that many people are living alone and have very little contact with other people; loneliness can often lead to depression so please remember your neighbours particularly those living alone this Christmas and invite them in for a chat and a turkey sandwich.  Well done to all at Stn 11 for a great initiative.  The Eastbourne firefighters were also busy attending a flat fire in Howard Square where they rescued one male from the property before tacking the fire with crews wearing BA and using a hosereel.
Looking forward to this Friday evening where we are off for a night out with the team on the 6th floor; not quite the Christmas party we had planned as that was organised for last Friday. Hopefully there will be no last minute hiccups and I can go out with the team for a nice relaxing evening, good company and some decent food and maybe a glass or two of wine!!! And if Tony Gurr is reading this, no cheap chicken; Tony I understand has a particular fondness for the cheaper cut, deep fried, but I understand that this weekend for a special treat he will be trying a Kentucky Fried!!!
Des Prichard
Chief Fire Officer & Chief Executive
East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service