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.

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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!

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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.

FLYING THE FLAG

Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service Birstall HQ, Loughborough Fire and Rescue Station and Shepshed Fire and Rescue Station are raising the rainbow flag today (Tuesday 17 May) for International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT).

This is a worldwide annual landmark to draw the attention of decision makers, the media, members of the public, opinion leaders and local authorities to the alarming situation faced by lesbian, gay, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people and, all those who do not conform to majority sexual and gender norms.

Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service are continually working to promote important messages and develop an understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) initiatives, through internal networks, forums and work with other organisations. IDAHOT has been promoted throughout the organisations since 2013 and, in 2014 an award was won for the most improved employer in the East Midlands at the Stonewall Workplace Equality Awards.

Joanna Raisin, Crew Manager at Loughborough Red Watch, said: “It may only be a small act of flying a flag at the station but, hopefully it sends out a strong message of support for the LGBT community, and says that the Service doesn’t tolerate bullying of any sort. We believe that people should be able to be themselves and be proud of who they are.”

‘ShOUT!’ is Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender network, made up of staff members who have a drive to move forward with matters relating to sexual orientation and workplace equality. If you want to find out more information visit our Twitter page @LFRSshout.

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:

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The Prince’s Trust Team Programme – Armed with a learning experience

After a 23 year career in the Army, which I started four days after officially leaving school at the age of 16, it was quickly coming up to my retirement at the young age of 40!  I had applied to join the police, as the thought of a normal nine to five job was not my cup of tea. I was lucky enough to have been accepted and I start the day after I leave the armed forces in October 2014.

Having served on nine operational tours over my career, including Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, I was looking for something to do within my last few months as a serving soldier. I was posted to Leicester Careers Office a few years ago and as part of my outreach tasks I was introduced to The Prince’s Trust 12 Week Team Programme, delivered by Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, through some of the Team members who had shown an interest in a career in the Army.  I would speak to them and even act as their recruiter if they did indeed want to join.  I also assisted on a Team residential and community project back in 2007.

I was told about secondments by one of the Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service Prince’s Trust Team Leaders so I asked my Career Management Officer about it and said I would like to apply for it.  This would allow me to be back in the UK for longer than my last 6 months entitlement, as I was posted in Germany. I contacted Juliet Briggs, the Delivery Partner Manager, and spoke to her about my intentions, and she was more than happy to have me as a secondee. I was put onto the Team Leader training course which I enjoyed and learnt so many new things after having been focused on the Army for so long.

Having completed my training I was given the role of Assistant Team Leader working alongside Team Leader Laura Henderson who had lead several teams before. At first I was like a rabbit in headlights, having to watch what I said and remembering that the Team members are not in the Army and do not always do what you ask of them. After a couple of weeks I started to get used to the way young people behave, dress and even speak and I realised that I had been in a bubble for so long and really lost touch with young people.

Laura told me to relax and just be myself, which was the best advice I could have. I found that the young people would listen to me, especially when I was frank with them, as they often found people aren’t these days and they respected me for telling them the truth in an honest and straight forward manner. I have learnt so much from working on the Team Programme, it has not only opened my eyes to the younger generation but it has also stopped me from  judging people based on just the way they dress or speak. The Team members I have worked with may not have had the best start in life or maybe got mixed up with the wrong people, but they have made a start to change their life around just by turning up on the first day and later on by completing the whole 12 weeks.

I have loved every minute working with Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service and The Prince’s Trust and it has given me such a boost in my confidence working with young people, which no doubt will have a positive effect in my next job as a police officer.

I cannot recommend the experience enough to any serving member or ex-member of the Armed Forces who is looking for a challenging but rewarding time at work.

Staff Sergeant Kev Bagshaw
9th/12th Royal Lancers (POW’s)

 

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