BRITISH FIREFIGHTER CHALLENGE 2016

On Saturday 30 July a one day event, The British Firefighter Challenge 2016, took place at Jubilee Campus, Nottingham University, raising money for The Fire Fighters Charity. Operational firefighters from all over the world were invited to take part, with over 70 personnel accepting the challenge from countries including Germany, Austria, Croatia and even Kuwait. Representing the English fire and rescue services were Suffolk, London, Merseyside, Humberside, Hertfordshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and ten firefighters from Leicestershire.

Firefighters competed in a series of operational tasks which included; stair running, hauling aloft, forcible entry techniques, hose running, equipment carrying and a casualty rescue. Finishing times ranged from the winning time of 2 minutes and 44 seconds by German competitor Joachim Posanz, to just over 7 minutes.

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John Gregory from Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service was the fastest out of all the British male firefighters, finishing in third place overall, with a time of 2 minutes and 52 seconds, a second behind German competitor Jens Ludeke!  Rebecca Simms from neighbouring Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service was fastest out of all the British female firefighters in a time of 4 minutes 52 seconds.

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The highly demanding individual event was then followed by the relay event. This involved teams of four firefighters going against one another to complete the same course. Thirteen relay teams took part in this, including two from Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, with both finishing just out of the medal positions. The German team TFA X-Cross won gold in a time of 2 minutes and 13 seconds. Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service were the fastest out of all the British fire and rescue services, winning silver with a time of 2 minutes and 13 seconds with London finishing in Bronze with a time of 2 minutes and 31 seconds.

The event was a great success with a number of fire service equipment sponsors supporting the event amongst many other organisations. A1 Trophies also supported the event by sponsoring all the trophies and relay medals. A massive thank you must go out to them all as this event could not have taken place without them.

The British Firefighter Challenge team is hopeful of bringing the competition to the streets of Leicester in July 2017, aiming to promote physical fitness within our fire and rescue services. The competition also hopes to help raise awareness amongst the members of the public on how physically demanding structural firefighting can be in the line of duty, to save lives and protect property. If you are interested in hearing about future events, please find The British Firefighter Challenge page on Facebook, or search @TeamGB_Fire on twitter. Any messages of support are greatly appreciated.

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KREFELD VISIT 2016

With the city of Leicester twinning with Krefeld in Germany, Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service send over a team of firefighters each year to take part in a set of games – this year was the 43rd visit. Twenty firefighters arrived on 14 April and were greeted by Krefeld Chief Fire Officer Dietmar Meissner. He welcomed the twinning friendship and hoped the visit, which began with a games of tug of war which Krefeld won and a barbeque for everyone to feast on, would be enjoyed.

On the following day (15 April), the team were given a tour of Krefeld’s new spectacular fire station and headquarters. The Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Andreas Klos, allowed the team full access to the building which cost a staggering €35million to build. This modern emergency service building has all their key services on one site; fire appliance and paramedic ambulance bays, fire control, workshops, stores, breathing apparatus servicing, volunteer firefighter equipment, a high rise training house, gas powered fire apparatus as well as a gym and small all-weather pitch.

Krefield fire station

During the tour the Chief Fire Officer, Mr Meissner, announced that before joining the fire service he was a bricklayer and he had decided to create a wall of honour for all retiring firefighters in Krefeld. As recognition of the friendship between the two cities and to thank Watch Manager Martin Bee for his commitment to twinning since 1997, he was awarded the first brick in their wall – a very kind gesture that marked his last official visit before retiring.

At the end of the tour another announcement was made. The team were informed that the entrance of Krefeld’s new fire station was being named Bob Miller Platz (Bob Miller Place) after firefighter Bob Miller who visited Krefeld on many twinning occasions. He sadly lost his life, aged 44, in a fire in Leicester in 2002. Chief Fire Officer Dietmar Meissner, Assistant Chief Fire Officer Andreas Klos and Ulf Tabbert, a retired firefighter, were the only people that knew about this special presentation. Everyone was deeply moved by this kind, thoughtful memorable gesture to Bob and were happy it took place in Krefeld. Soon after the games continued in a nearby snow dome with Leicester winning the sledging.

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On Saturday (16 April) the team revisited the new fire station and were introduced to the new Mayor of Krefeld, Frank Meier, who officially welcomed them on behalf of the people of Krefeld. He then started the days challenges which began with a five a side football match for the long standing Ulf Tabbert and Jerry Askham Trophy, which Krefeld went on to win 2-1.

Football games

Finally, there was the firefighters challenge where four firefighters from Krefeld went up against four firefighters from Leicester in pulling a fire appliance, running up their training tower (7 floors) hauling aloft hose, running down the tower to the fire engine and putting a fire out. Krefeld took 6:01 mins Leicester took 5:20 mins – great result by the team!

Pulling challenge v1

The evening was spent with many presentations and commitments to the longstanding friendship between the two cities at a pub owned by Robert Obertreis, who had visited Leicester and spent time at the Old Horse on London Road. A special presentation also went to Krefeld firefighter Frank Peters for supporting firefighters in Leicester.

The team returned Sunday 17 April having once again spent an amazing time with our Krefeld firefighter friends and family.

OPERATION NEW YEAR EXERCISE

Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service do more than just put out fires. We have highly trained crews who are trained for many things such as road traffic collisions and technical rescue work. Due to the forever changing environments, we have to make sure that our crews skills are refreshed and updated regularly in order to keep them on top of their game and prepared at all times – you never know when they are going to be needed!

Recently our Urban Search and Rescue Team (USAR) had to take part in Operation New Year Exercise, which was arranged by our very own Paul Purser. This was a USAR exercise for Zone 2 Essex, Buckinghamshire, West Midlands, Norfolk, Lincoln and ourselves and, was organised as part of our assurance process for USAR.

It turned out to be an excellent weekend made up of a number of workshops on the Friday and Saturday. These consisted of breaking and breaching technical search, shoring, lifting and moving and, working on a rubble pile. At 01:00am on the Sunday morning, Operation New Year began and the teams worked all the way through until 09:00am the same day – not an easy training exercise to say the least.

This training event allowed specialist teams to train and work together in a live environment. The ability to train in these environments is essential to emergency services such as ourselves. It allows preparation for worst-case scenarios on site prior to any actual emergency happening. This prior knowledge is invaluable as it enhances the potential for successful outcomes  if and when a real life scenario occurs.

The experiences of the day allowed all the teams involved to learn from one another, helping them better enhance their skill set. They were able to share ideas and learning outcomes which can only help them in the future. On behalf of everyone involved during the exercise, we would like to say a huge thank you.

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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A Message from the Deputy Chief

The factory fire on Melton Road, in the city, on Thursday of last week was the first fire I had attended and took charge of since joining the service late last year. After the initial actions of taking over and commanding the incident I had chance to reflect on my first major incident in Leicestershire.

I have over these last 10 months had the opportunity to visit all stations and all departments in the service and experienced at first hand the high levels of equipment, appliances and premise we have in the service. I have also had chance to meet the staff of LFRS and sit down and talk to what was an unknown group of people.

I was heartened by the people I spoke to and, although they were not always happy to hear of what I spoke, they all showed integrity, intelligence and courtesy. Along with these behaviours I always came away from the places I visited with a sense of the passion for the Service and enthusiasm for the roles these people had.

Though all of these things were very positive, the only thing that I constantly asked myself over these early visits was, are we any good at firefighting?

On Thursday in Melton Road I finally got my answer. Yes! As well as all the other good bits we do, we are a good firefighting Service.

I understand the term ‘good’ may to some of you seem a little bland. However, in every fire and rescue service that I have ever worked, the greatest complement that could be paid to any watch was by being referred to as “a good firefighting watch”

We are collectively facing some difficult times currently, with other issues still to come. However, for that period of time last Thursday on Melton Road I saw courage, skill, knowledge, experience, teamwork and compassion from all levels of the Service united in a single cause.

I am clearly not the only one who has this feeling, as the following comments below posted and tweeted demonstrate.

I am proud to be part of this ’good’ firefighting service and for that I want to thank you all.

RICHARD CHANDLER (Deputy Chief Fire and Rescue Officer)

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Messages from social media:

“Well done to all our lads who attended and are still there now. You are the best bunch of blokes I’ve ever had the pleasure of cooking for xx”

“Hope all emergency service staff stay safe, thanks for all you guys do to look after us.. Keep safe..”

“Respect to the fire fighters for keeping it under control, had the potential of being something very nasty.”

“Well dun to all u men that put out the big fire on Melton road well dun…”

“Well done to the brave lads who have been fighting this fire! X”

“How on earth that petrol station did not go up in flames as well fire service done an amazing job! Unbelievable”

“Well done for all the firemen and women and police for making the place safe for everyone. A very good job xx”

“Fire crew did a fantastic job”

“Well done to all fire crews who attended the incident this morning.”

“Well done 2 all the emergency teams for keeping the situation under control. A very risky job,but a job well done. Lives saved, petrol station saved. Could have been much worse. Now the task of pulling down anything unsfe. Well done 2 everyone involved”

“Great job by Leicestershire fire and police. Job well Done”

“Well done to all those involved keeping us safe and stopping this from becoming even more dangerous than it already was.”

“Well done to all Emergency Services”

“Thank You for saving our lives. God Bless”

“The emergency services did a brilliant job.”

“Thank you for keeping us safe “

“Well done to you all”

“Well done lads that petrol station could of easily gone up”

“Hats off to you firefighters”

“Well done all. X”

“Well done 2 the firefighters 4 containing it and keeping it under control.”

“Good job guys! Well done.. x”

“I witnessed the fire…was too scary….but hats off to the firefighters….”

“Well done crews from @LeicsFireRescue!”

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FAREWELL FROM MOIRA

Finally, after 76 years, Moira On-Call (retained) Fire and Rescue Station has closed.
I myself joined in 1998, when the basic training was two weeks of purgatory at Central Fire and Rescue Station. I have to say now that some of the principles picked up in those two weeks still come to the surface and will probably remain with me always. The trainers on the course were Watson and Nagra – both names still strike a chord!
The job has played a huge part in my life (and that of my family) and I hope that my part in it has played a positive part in other’s lives. As a firefighter you see some sights; the highs and lows of human life. Some things make you extremely sad and others lift your heart, but all these experiences fashion your outlook on life. I’ve never been one to dwell on some of the darker events but I will always remember the smiles and laughter.
It has to be said, the main thing I will take with me is the friends I have made, both at my own station and in the Service as a whole. A lot of people have left a lasting impression on me and they will always be in my thoughts. To be an On-Call (retained) Firefighter is a huge commitment and this shows in the people I have shared my time with. I remember sometimes crying with laughter in the back of the pump but conversely I have seen shock, sadness and horror etched in the faces of my colleagues after some particularly nasty incident. All these experiences make you a stronger person and I think that there can’t be many other jobs that give you these moments.
My thanks to all that have crossed my path and influenced me – there are too many to mention, but you will all be remembered!
Crew Manager  (at time of writing) Chris Sloan 2217

Moira