NOT JUST FIRES

Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service provides much more than just emergency response to fires. Our crews are also highly trained in extrication from road traffic collisions, and our Technical Rescue crew is trained in all aspects of rescue work. Ian Nuttall from our Technical Rescue crew explains why real-life scenario training exercises are so valuable in preparing emergency service personnel for rescue work.

When there is a missing person the Police are responsible for the coordination of the search to find them and at certain incidents other specialist teams are required to assist; either to provide extra personnel or extra skills and equipment. On a Saturday in early April there was a multi-agency emergency services exercise that was undertaken at Bluebell Quarry located at the Midland Quarry Products Asphalt plant in Groby. This involved the Leicestershire Police Tactical Support Group, Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service Technical Rescue Team and Leicestershire Search and Rescue (LeicSAR – pronounced as Lexar) – totaling around 40 personnel.

The scenario involved two missing persons in an apparent suicide attempt (based on an historical incident that occurred in the south of the UK), with the addition of a third casualty that was a passer-by. The initial response was the arrival of a Police Search Advisor to develop a search plan of the area. The next stage of the search then involved LeicSAR whose primary role is to provide specialist resources to Leicestershire’s emergency services to assist in the search and rescue of vulnerable and missing people in the Leicestershire area. After a clear and comprehensive safety brief, two LeicSAR teams were deployed around the top of the quarry and the three casualties were quickly identified.

Due to the casualty locations (two being on different quarry faces and one in the water), specialist rescue teams were required. These were made up of Rope Rescue and Water Rescue trained personnel from both Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service and Leicestershire Police and the casualties were successfully recovered by a combination of inflatable boats and rope rescue equipment.

This training event, which has the potential to occur at numerous locations in the future allowed three specialist teams to train and work together in a live environment that posed credible hazards. The experiences of the day and the learning outcomes from all three teams were achieved because of the access to this environment.

On behalf of everyone involved during the exercise, thank you to all at Midland Quarry Products who assisted in the development of the exercise. The exercise would not have been such a success without your input.

The ability to train in these environments is essential to both emergency services and the host sites.  This co-operation allows preparation for worst-case scenarios on site prior to any actual emergency and this prior knowledge is invaluable as it enhances the potential for successful outcomes for all parties involved.

IAN NUTTALL
Technical Rescue

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A MESSAGE OF REASSURANCE FROM OUR DEPUTY CHIEF FIRE AND RESCUE OFFICER

COMPULSORY REDUNDANCIES
There has been much talk recently on social media of Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service and compulsory redundancy.
I hope I understand why. I believe it is a reaction to the reality that the Service faces a considerable challenge to meet a huge financial deficit over the next five years, and uncertainty and anxiety is easily translated over social media to mixed
messages and outrage.
I feel compelled to try and respond to this reaction and emphasise to you all that officers, managers and the Combined Fire Authority (CFA) are exploring every possible option to avoid, mitigate or reduce the need for compulsory redundancies across both the support and operational staff are as. In some cases redundancy, either compulsory or voluntary, or a severance agreement may suit the needs of a member of staff or be a preferred personal option. Therefore, whilst it is impossible to rule it out completely, I would reassure you all that officers and managers are working extremely hard to produce plans that assist the Service to meet the financial gap, whilst at the same time reduce the use of redundancy.
The Chair of the CFA recently required the CFO to “take all reasonable steps to avoid compulsory redundancies in the whole
time establishment” – a sentiment that it is hoped will reinforce the CFA’s and organisation’s desire not to use compulsory redundancy before every other option has been explored.
I hope that, via this article, by emphasising how hard LFRS is working, at all levels, to explore all other possible avenues to reduce organisational numbers without resorting to compulsory redundancy, it will give you some reassurance and assist in
reducing some of the uncertainty and anxiety that you currently are feeling.
RICHARD CHANDLER
Deputy Chief Fire and Rescue Officer

A MESSAGE TO STFF FROM OUR DEPUTY CHIEF FIRE AND RESCUE OFFICER

As I am sure all staff are aware, the Fire Brigades’ Union has announced a further period of strike action that will commence tomorrow morning at 07:00 hours and last for 24 hours.

The ongoing ‘pensions’ dispute with the Government has affected the Service for more than 18 months now and with the hope that a resolution is found quickly, it is perhaps timely to remind everyone that the policies and procedures we have agreed should be adhered to at all times. We all share a common purpose of making our communities safer and as such, we should treat each other and members of our communities with respect at all times remembering the values of the Service, each individual’s right to personal beliefs and the expectations of the communities we serve.

RICHARD CHANDLER
Deputy Chief Fire and Rescue Officer

ARTFUL ROAD SAFETY MESSAGE

With the rise in number of road traffic collisions that Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service now have to deal with, two firefighters from White Watch at Western Fire and Rescue Station have come up with a unique way to get a road safety message across. Ainsley Burton and Rich ‘Mo’ Curtis have put together a piece of graffiti work that is grabbing the attention of all who pass Western Fire and Rescue Station in New Parks, Leicester. This piece of art highlights the Fatal Four safety message with the grim reaper caricatures recreated as never seen before. And what’s more, the creation of this huge wall mural has all been filmed by local photographer, Scott Choucino, and published via various social media channels. With more than half a day’s filming condensed down into a two and a half minute film, the end result is pretty spectacular. Whilst producing the artwork, many local residents who were passing, stopped to ask Mo and Ainsley about what they were doing and also enquired about what the Fatal Four were. The Fatal Four are the four main causes of deaths and serious injuries to drivers on our roads, and a reaper character represents each of these causes. Have a look at the mural and see if you can work out what each of the causes are. If you want to find out if you were right, then visit http://www.thefatalfour.co.uk to see. If you are interested in having a closer look at the completed mural at Western Fire and Rescue Station, please come down to New Parks Boulevard, off Aikman Avenue. And if you want to see just how Mo and Ainsley’s creative talents were put to use to create the mural, watch Scott Choucino’s film here: http://youtu.be/t8qPPyxQyhk

Don’t forget, if you are on Twitter you can follow us on: @LFRSWestern @thefatalfour @LeicsFireRescue and if you are on Facebook you can follow us: http://www.facebook.com/LeicsFireRescue http://www.facebook.com/TheFatalFour

A REMEMBRANCE TO REMEMBER

I arrived at St Pancras station at 2.06pm on the Saturday and made my way by tube to the hotel accommodation.

By the time I had checked in and sorted my uniform out it was time to convene in the hotel restaurant for a security brief and a rundown of the timetable of events for the following morning. It was a very detailed brief as security was very high (largely due to credible information that had been received over the past couple of days, which had pushed the security level even higher).

I received my ID badge and was allocated a place in Contingent Number 1, along with a group of police officers and prison officers. Contingent number 2 was made up of members from the British Red Cross, ambulance service, British Transport Police and military police.

A buffet supper followed and then I decided on an early night to be ready for a 5.00 am start the following morning.

A Shower followed by a ‘full english’ in the morning and I was in the foyer fully dressed in uniform by 6.30am!

All bags had to be placed in a line outside the hotel entrance and special police dogs checked them over whilst the four coaches were thoroughly searched before we were allowed to board them. Everyone was searched as we boarded the coach and then there was a very long 35 minute wait once we were all seated aboard.

The coaches finally set off and headed for the short journey to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

We had travelled along only a few streets when we came to a halt and there was a long discussion between our Contingent Leader and a group of police officers whose cars were blocking the road. It seemed that the security was that tight we might not even get to where we were needed!

A detour route was decided on and we finally arrived at our destination.

We disembarked and placed all our baggage in a room in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Then the shouting began! It reminded me of days spent at the training school, as the drill sergeant bellowed at the top of his lungs for us to fall in, sort ourselves into height order and number from the right. He couldn’t hear us apparently and were not fast enough so we ended up numbering off about eight times each time getting louder and faster until he was satisfied.

Then we were split in to two squads and allocated a Drill Sergeant per squad. Ex-military volunteers were selected to demonstrate the various commands; attention, at ease, turn to right ,left about turn and by the left QUIIIIICK-MAAAAARCH etc.

This lasted for a couple of hours, marching around the quadrangle within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, until our Drill Sergeant was happy we were up to a good enough standard for the public to see us march out on to Whitehall.

We were to march up King Charles Street, turn left onto Whitehall and down to the Cenotaph, which was about 80 meters away. We would then form part of the static guard for the duration of the ceremony. We completed a couple of practice runs up to the archway on Whitehall and then we lined up to be inspected by Member of Parliament, Home Secretary, Theresa May.

She gave an address on World War I and followed it with a prayer. We were then brought to attention and marched past her out on to Whitehall and down to the Cenotaph.

I was fortunate to have had a very good position at the front, almost directly opposite the Cenotaph. Although I had to stand completely still throughout the ceremony, looking forward I could still see the ceremony and all the members of the royal family, politicians etc. laying their wreathes.

After the official laying of wreathes, the procession of Veterans commenced on their march past, paying their respects to their squadrons and fallen colleagues. Once the ceremony was over we were brought to attention and marched back into the quadrangle, where we were thanked and fell out.

There was an opportunity to nip through the small archway to Downing Street where we could get a quick photo outside Number 10.

I have to say that it was a very moving three hours and I felt very privileged to have been there.

Mick Wallis

Firefighter Training – Hinckley

Everyone in Leicester knows Rudolph!

In 1949 firefighters from Central Fire and Rescue Station discovered a dilapidated ex-shop demonstration model of a reindeer under the stands of the Tigers Football Club, which at this time was used as private workshops. They asked if they could borrow it and renovate it for that years children’s party at the fire and rescue station. Approval was given and after the addition of a motorised sleigh Rudolph proudly delivered Santa to that years Christmas party.

Apparently as they drove up to the fire and rescue station people stopped and threw money into the firefighters hats and the idea of a charity collection was born. In 1950 Rudolph again attended the Christmas party but this year was also requested to attend the Town Hall Square for the Christmas lights and according to the Leicester Mercury of 22 December a crowd of around 7000 mobbed the sleigh as it did a circuit of the fountain. One child was temporarily lost and a Mrs Sarah Tomlin was knocked down by a motorbike, although she was allowed home from hospital that night.

Obviously the firefighters realised they were onto a winner and started to organise street tours in the following years. At this time the emphasis was on donated toys which the firefighters repaired and passed on to needy children or those in hospital but money was also collected.

This original Rudolph had eyes that blinked, ears that wiggled and a mouth that chewed and one headline advised people to “look out for Rudolph the robot reindeer”.

In 1979 as the original Rudolph was starting to get weary a new one was built by a local firm involved in creating figures for theme parks. This was closely followed by a new sleigh in 1981 and then finally in 1992 the sleigh that is still in use today.

In 2010poor Rudolph was left red in the face as well as the nose after highways and insurance legislation meant he could no longer tour the region during the festive season. Instead, he was forced to park up his sleigh at various locations to make his annual charity collections. Thanks to the generosity of crews at the Central Fire and Rescue Station and local companies, Workshops staff have been able to get Rudolph’s show back on the road. His sleigh, a former reliant robin, has been completely refurbished with a much-needed re-spray and festively decorated with LED lighting so that the children of Leicestershire will be able to see him coming. More importantly, the sleigh has passed its MOT, and Santa has been given a seatbelt and his own risk assessment! Thanks to the support of firefighters and headquarters staff, who take Rudolph out on cold, dark evenings in December, the fund has been able to raise more than £300,000 over the years for children’s causes in the local community.

Today see’s Rudolph back on his Christmas route with firefighters, volunteers and Santa:

Rudolph 2014 ABoard

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Street art at Western Station gives the Fatal Four message

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If you’re heading through New Parks in Leicester anytime soon, and pass Western Fire and Rescue Station, you’ll find some impressive new street art outside the station.

But it isn’t all for fun. Firefighters have created their own graffiti street art in an attempt to highlight the Fatal Four to young drivers in the New Park area. Richard Curtis and Ainsley Burton from Western Fire and Rescue Station’s White Watch have used wooden boards to create their graffiti street art as a unique way to spread positive key safety messages to the local community.

Armed with their spray paint cans and the boards, Richard and Ainsley set about crafting a piece of street art to promote the Service’s Fatal Four safety message, which is important and relevant for drivers of all ages, but especially for younger drivers.

The Fatal Four is a road safety campaign, highlighting the four biggest dangers whilst driving; drink and drugs, using mobile phones, speeding and not wearing seatbelts. This message is delivered to young drivers across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland using the VF4 car, a car-crash simulator, and the Fatal Four website (www.thefatalfour.co.uk.) The website is designed for educators and offers a unique range of resources, hard-hitting videos, free of charge, in an attempt to reduce the high number of fatalities on our roads involving young drivers.

Western Fire and Rescue Station is based in the heart of New Parks, on Aikman Avenue, and visible to the busy New Parks Way. The new boards will capture the attention of passers-by to emphasise the important Fatal Four message. Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service attended 638 road traffic collisions in 2012/13, an increase on the previous year.

Andy Galway, Station Manager at Western Fire and Rescue Station, said: “These boards are not only brilliantly created but also carry an important message. We want to reduce the number of young drivers who die on our roads each year from drink and drugs, using their mobile phone, speeding and not wearing a seatbelt.”

The boards can and will be changed in the future, along with its key messages, to fit in with key messages that the Service wants to spread around the local community. Another board is planned at the station for Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service’s very own street artists to promote more awareness campaigns.

For more information on the Fatal Four and VF4 car, see http://www.thefatalfour.co.uk and http://www.leicestershire-fire.gov.uk/your-safety/road-safety/vf4/home

 

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