News

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NHS IN SCRAMBLE FOR FLU VACCINE  (20/07) 

The NHS is trying to secure stocks of the vaccine needed to protect against the particularly nasty flu strain known as ‘Aussie Flu’.  The World Health Organisation is causing a delay because of indecision over which vaccine to select. 

The NHS now has fears that the stocks of vaccine will not be available to commence the vaccinations in time for the coming winter.  GPs and pharmacists are being advised to check when their sup-plies of the vaccine will be delivered.

DEFENCE FIRE & RESCUE SERVICE PRIVATISED  (20/07) 

On the 19th July 2019 the MoD announced that a contract has been awarded to CAPITA to take over the running of the Defence Fire & Rescue Service and the Fire Service College at Moreton-in–Marsh.

The contract runs for 12 years and is worth £525m.  Capita will be responsible for the 53 fire stations operated by the DFRS including those in Cyprus and The Falkland Islands.  Capita ran into severe trading problems in 2018 and the contract is seen by many as the government throwing a lifeline to it.  Unite trade union has been very critical of the privatisation and has issued a statement including the words “the government is playing with fire”.

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CHRIS WANNELL – UPDATE  (16/07) 

Our chairman, CHRIS WANNELL, is home in Royal Wootton Bassett after surgery on his spine performed at the GWH, Swindon.  Chris is making slow progress towards recovery but is in very great pain.  He is not being helped by the lack of proper post-operative care from the NHS which has left him angry and frustrated at the various departments that should be co-ordinating their efforts to care for him but are so far showing a lamentable lack of efficiency.

We hope the problems are soon sorted out and Chris gets the help and care to which he is entitled.

FBU THREATEN TO STRIKE IN HEREFORD  (16/07) 

A dispute between the FIRE BRIGADES UNION and the Hereford & Worcester Fire Authority has led to the union threatening strike action.

The dispute is centred on management’s plan to make changes to the duty systems in the Service to make more effective use of the personnel available.  The FBU is claiming that the changes are being enforced without full and proper negotiation and consultation.  In reply the fire authority claims that it has been negotiating with the FBU for three years on the matter in dispute but the FBU has been resistant to any of the proposed changes.

MAURICE BETTERIDGE UNWELL  (16/07) 

MAURICE BETTERIDGE was involved in a road traffic collision a short while ago and he is recovering from injuries received.  This requires him to wear a neck brace for the coming months.  He is hoping to attend one of the therapy centres run by the FIRE FIGHTERS CHARITY. 

We all wish Maurice a rapid and complete recovery.

SUPREME COURT RULES IN FAVOUR OF FBU  (30/06) 

The Supreme Court has rejected the Government’s application to appeal against the High Court’s decision last December in favour of the Fire Brigades Union.  The Supreme Court found that the application did not have any points of law that warranted an appeal being granted. 

The case involves the version of the Firefighters Pension Scheme that was forced upon members joining the wholetime service from 2015 onwards.  The new scheme requires higher payments into it for less benefits and requires members to reach a higher age before being able to retire on full pension.  The court decided that this was unlawful on the grounds of age discrimination. 

The matter is still not fully resolved.  It must be referred back to an Industrial Tribunal for remedy.  The Industrial tribunal will no doubt take some time to deliberate over which option it will impose on fire authorities in order to bring the situation of the 2015 fire pension scheme within the law.

DORSET & WILTSHIRE FRS ASSESSMENT BY INSPECTORATE  (23/06) 

Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Service has published the first of its annual assessments of Dorset & Wiltshire FRS.  There were three themes to this year’s inspection: effectiveness; efficiency and people.  The Dorset & Wiltshire FRS has received the grade of good in all three.  The only grade above this is ‘outstanding’. 

The inspection report was signed by HMICFRS Wendy Williams who in her overall summary states , “We are pleased with the performance of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service in keeping people safe and secure, but it needs to improve in some areas to give a consistently good service.”

LFB COMMISSIONER TO RETIRE  (23/06) 

The Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, Dany Cotton, has announced her intention to retire in April 2020.  Although the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has been fulsome in his praise of the Commissioner as he received the news, others have been highly critical.  In particular the groups of survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire are very angry and see the Commissioner’s decision as her attempting to avoid the official criticism of the LFB’s actions at the disastrous blaze.  

Some of the answers given by the Commissioner when under questioning at the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry have outraged those who are still suffering from bereavements and/or loss of their homes.

FRANK WILTON’S FUNERAL DETAILS  (19/06) 

Frank Wilton’s funeral was held at Sedgemoor Crematorium on Monday 8th July 2019.

GET WELL SOON, KATH PENFOLD  (19/06) 

Those who saw Kath Penfold at the AGM lunch on 9th June will have noticed that she was not well.  Shortly after this event she was taken into Cheltenham Hospital for surgery to remove a blockage in her carotid artery.  

Kath jokes that this involved having her throat cut!   She was soon home in Cricklade after the operation and is making a good recovery.

BEN FOGLE JOINS PROTEST ABOUT FREE TV LICENCES FOR THE ELDERLY BEING MEANS TESTED  (19/06) 

TV personality and author, BEN FOGLE, has put himself on the long list of celebrities criticising the decision by the BBC to restrict the issue of free TV licences to those over 75 who are in receipt of pension credit.  Ben has gone a step further and pledged to donate all of the salary he earned from working on the TV programme Animal Park to the over-75s. 

In a statement published on social media Ben states that he feels we owe it to those who have served their country “in the armed forces, the NHS ,the fire service etc….”not to be penalised.

HYUNDAI & KIA MODELS BEING RECALLED DUE TO FIRE RISK  (12/06) 

If you drive a Kia or Hyundai car manufactured between 2010 and 2015 and fitted with a 2.0 litre or 2.4 litre petrol engine you may expect to have it recalled by the manufacturer very soon.  The engines on thousands of these models have caused fires resulting in some injuries and one death. 

The Kia models subject to the recall are the Soul, Optima, Optima Hybrid and Sorento.  The Hyundai models affected are the Sonata, Sonata hybrid and the Santa Fe.

EXTERNAL FIRE SPREAD AGAIN A CONCERN  (12/06)

A fire on 9th June 2019 that spread quickly to involve 20 apartments in a recently constructed block at Barking has raised questions about how the building regulations appear to have allowed such housing accommodation to be built.  London Fire Brigade sent 100 firefighters to deal with the incident and it is fortunate that there were no fatalities and only two residents of the apartments needed medical attention.

Questions are being asked about the extensive use of timber in the construction of the block and how the fire was allowed to spread externally so quickly from a barbeque lit by a tenant on a balcony.

UK GOVERNMENT FORCES RECALL OF 500,000 TUMBLE DRYERS  (12/06) 

Four years after concerns were first raised about fire risks associated with certain makes of tumble dryer the UK Government has taken the unprecedented step of ordering the recall of 500,000 machines that have been sold in Britain.  It has been established that some dryers made by Hot-point, Creda and Indesit have a fault that can cause a fire.

GRENFELL FAMILIES FILE LAWSUIT IN USA  (12/06) 

Many of the families of the victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster have not waited for the Public Inquiry to report and have filed a law suit that they hope and expect will hold to account the manufacturers of the cladding and insulation fitted to the exterior of the building in which 72 people died.  

The law suit is being brought by the families of 69 victims of the fire and 177 survivors.  The manufacturers of the aluminium composite cladding and the insulation are being sued for punitive and compensatory damages resulting from wrongful death.

THANKS FOR A JOB WELL DONE  (10/06) 

David Ward and John Gentleman have stood down from the WRFA Executive Committee.  After many years’ service to the Association both David and John decided it was time to come off the committee.  Both had served as North Area Representatives. 

At the Annual General Meeting held on 9th June 2019 the President, Jerry Willmott, gave the sincere thanks of the WRFA to both men for their loyal and highly valued work to in support of the association.

NEW FACES ON THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE  (10/06) 

At our Annual General Meeting held on 9th June 2019 two new members were elected to serve on the Executive Committee of the Wiltshire Retired Firefighters Association.  They will both serve as North Area Representatives. 

BRIAN WATTS served in Wiltshire Fire Brigade with distinction and rose to senior rank before retiring.  He lives in Swindon with his wife, June. 

MARK GASKARTH served in Wiltshire Fire & Rescue service for 25 years before transferring on promotion to a senior management post with Royal Berkshire FRS.  He served there for two years before taking early retirement.  Mark lives with his wife, Lynne, in Swindon.