News

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HELPING AIMEE  (22/02) 

Aimee Haynes is an undergraduate at Bournemouth University. She is in the second year of her studies towards a degree in commercial photography.

Through the WRFA website, Aimee recently contacted the WRFA and asked for our help with her latest degree course project that is on the theme of the fire and rescue service.  Aimee is building a portfolio of portrait photographs of people serving in the FRS today and those that have retired.  She then interviews the portrait subject on film to complete each section of the portfolio.

Aimee visited Devizes on 21st February and photographed and interviewed six members of the WRFA.

We wish Aimee every success with her studies and also with her career once she has graduated in May 2019. It has been a privilege and pleasure to meet her and be of some assistance with her project.

SKIN CREAMS ALLEGED TO BE LINKED TO FIRE DEATHS  (13/02) 

In 2017 a BBC investigation found that since 2010 there have been 37 fire deaths in the UK that might be linked to skin creams that contain paraffin.

The BBC based its fears on responses from 53 fire and rescue services.  There have been a further eight deaths since November 2016 that are thought to also be linked to skin creams that are flammable.  The theory being promoted by West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service is that people with dry-skin conditions use moisturising creams such as E45, Astral and Nivea and the creams are absorbed by bedding and/or the clothing.  Should a source of ignition come into contact with the clothing or bedding contaminated by the cream a potentially life threatening fire is likely to occur.

Recognising this danger, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is advising that users of skin creams containing paraffin should change clothing and bedding regularly to reduce the risk.  There are 38 paraffin based creams on the market but according to the BBC only seven of them state on the packaging that they contain paraffin.

‘LUDO’ MACAULAY NOMINATED FOR SPIRIT OF FIRE AWARD  (10/02) 

The FIRE FIGHTERS CHARITY will be running another ‘Spirit of Fire’ event later this year at which awards will be made to members of the Charity that have earned special recognition. One of the categories of award goes to a retired member of the service and the Charity has asked for nominations.

At the meeting of the WRFA Executive Committee on 8th February 2018, a decision was taken to nominate Ludwig (‘Ludo’) Macaulay for the award. The nomination has been accepted and we await news of whether or not Ludo has been the successful nominee.

Ludo has worked tirelessly over many years in support of the Charity and was instrumental in setting up the highly successful ‘Three Peaks Challenge’ that has run for twenty five years and will end this year.

SCOTLAND’S FIRE CHIEF URGES ACCEPTANCE OF 20% PAY DEAL BUT FBU UNHAPPY  (04/02) 

Firefighters in Scotland have been offered a 20% pay rise in stages over the next four years. Chief Fire Officer Alasdair Hay has informed all members of his service of the offer by writing to them individually. This has incensed the Fire Brigades Union.

The offer comes with strings attached and acceptance of it means the service must take on additional work such as attending medical emergencies, terrorist incidents, flooding, assisting the elderly and vulnerable. The FBU is angry that the CFO has made a direct approach to his staff rather than relying on negotiations with the FBU to close the deal.

If agreement can be reached, basic pay for a firefighter will rise from £29,934 to £35,800 by 20121-22.

SEWERAGE USED TO FIGHT AFRICAN FIRE  (30/01) 

An example of the way drought is affecting many parts of the African continent comes in the report of a recent fire in a Nairobi slum that left 6,000 people homeless and caused the deaths of four people.  The fire occurred on Sunday and burnt for ten hours in the suburb called Kijiji.

Four fire appliance crews fought the fire but soon ran out of water.  The nearest fire hydrant that was working was in the city centre and this meant the fire engines making a 12 mile round trip to replenish their water tanks.  Local people resorted to using anything liquid they could find and the most plentiful supply was in the form of effluent from a sewer that had overflowed.

TONY ANDREWS TO HAVE SURGERY  (30/01) 

Tony Andrews is expecting to be called into SDH, Odstock within the next few days for a delicate operation on his spine.

This is treatment that he has been awaiting for a long time and we sincerely wish him well and a full recovery.

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‘BEST OF BRITISH’ MAGAZINE  (30/01) 

The latest edition of ‘The Best of British’ magazine devotes space to paying tribute to UK fire fighters past and present.  The magazine is on sale at most reputable news agents.

JANE COX HAS A BROKEN ARM  (30/01) 

Jane Cox recently tripped whilst carrying a folding chair and sustained a fracture to the top part of her humerus (upper arm).  It is impossible to immobilise the area in a plaster cast and she has the arm in a collar and cuff sling for six weeks.

We are sorry to learn of this injury and wish Jane a full and swift recovery.

DEATH OF KEN HARRISON  (27/01) 

With much sorrow the death of WRFA member, KEN HARRISON, is announced. Ken passed peacefully away on 19th January 2018 in the Dorothy House Hospice after many years of battling with cancer.  Ken served for nine years in the Auxiliary Fire Service element of Wiltshire Fire Brigade.

His funeral service was held on 1st February at St Andrew’s Church, Chippenham.

Ken is survived by his wife, Margaret.

DEATH OF YVONNE BETTERIDGE  (21/01)

We are saddened to announce the death of Yvonne, wife of Maurice (Mo) Betteridge.  She has suffered with leukaemia for eight years and recently developed further complications.  Maurice has been offered condolences on behalf of our Association and assured of all possible support.  The funeral was held on Thursday 15th February at St James Church, Ludgershall.

Some of you will not know Mo very well.  He served at Ludgershall in the WFB and for a time was station officer in charge of Beaulieu Fire Station in Hampshire.  His full time employment was with the Ministry of Defence Fire Service.

BFSA MEDAL AWARDED TO DAME VERA LYNN  (13/01) 

In grateful recognition of the support that Dame Vera Lynn gave to the fire service personnel dealing with the Blitz in World War II, the trustees of the British Fire Services Association has awarded the BFSA Commendation Medal to her very recently.

On 30th August 1941, Dame Vera starred in a concert at the London Palladium the proceeds of which went to the Fire Brigade Widows & Orphans Fund (London Fire Brigade).

SHOCK FIGURE OF NUMBER OF 999 CALLS FOR AMBULANCE THAT GET A RESPONSE FROM FIRE CREWS  (08/01) 

The Daily Mail has been made aware by a ‘whistleblower’ of the significant rise in the number of 999 calls for an ambulance that are getting a first response from a fire engine and crew. The newspaper has uncovered that in 2017 the UK fire and rescue service provided a first response to a 999 call for an ambulance on 44,000 occasions. These calls would normally be answered by a paramedic and include such emergencies as cardiac arrest, uncontrolled bleeding, strokes and seizures.

The informant, believed to be employed within Kent Fire & Rescue Service, claims that the fire crews sent to such incidents receive only six days training for medical trauma calls.

The Home Office has brushed aside concerns and issued a statement that the “collaboration across our emergency services offers a real opportunity to maximise resources.”

MULTI-STOREY CAR PARK BLAZE RAISES QUESTIONS  (08/01) 

The fire that destroyed 1,600 cars in a Liverpool water front blaze on New Year’s Eve is causing questions to be asked about why the fire spread to involve all seven floors of a ten-year old car park. Merseyside’s Chief Fire Officer, Dan Stephens, is blaming the lack of sprinklers that he says would have at least controlled the fire long enough for his personnel to tackle it while it was still in its early stages.

The fitting of sprinklers to protect high-rise car parks was backed by the Government in 2010 but they failed to follow through on their report by changing the building regulations.

The car park will have to be demolished. Witnesses who saw the fire break out in a Land Rover have stated that they thought a single fire extinguisher would have been all that was needed to put out the fire when it was first noticed.

HOME OFFICE CLAMPS DOWN ON ‘BOOMERANG’ FIRE BOSSES  (01/01) 

Principal fire officers are being banned from retiring and then being reappointed the following day to the post from which they have just retired and claimed a lump sum from their pension pot. The Home Office Minister responsible for fire and rescue services, Rt. Hon. Nick Hurd MP, has presided over a Home Office ruling stopping the so called ‘boomerang bosses’ system that has been extensively used to exploit a loophole in the tax system

The Daily Telegraph has researched this matter and provided the Home Office with the information that in the last five years 249 fire service employees have used the ‘boomerang’ system.

YVE & LEN JOIN THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE  (17/12)

Yve and Len Benwell, pictured here with their granddaughter, have agreed to co-option onto the WRFA Executive Committee to fill two vacancies.

Len served in the London Fire Brigade before transferring to Wiltshire Fire Brigade where he completed his service and retired.  Yve was a clerical assistant at Swindon Divisional HQ in Wiltshire Fire Brigade.

Both hold individual membership of the WRFA and both are loyal supporters of the Association. Their home is in Blunsdon , north of Swindon.  Yve and Len hope to stand for election to the Executive Committee at the AGM which is to be held in June.