News

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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.

DEATH OF FRANCES GEORGE (FRANK) WILTON OStJ, QFSM, MIFireE  (09/06)

With very sincere sadness the death of FRANK WILTON is announced.  He died on Saturday 8th June.  He recently underwent a major operation on his aorta at Southmead Hospital but in the post-operative phase he had renal failure.  He was 85.  Frank was a WRFA member. 

He joined Wiltshire Fire Brigade in Swindon in the 1950s and later served at BHQ and then Salisbury.  He left Wiltshire to later serve in Wolverhampton, the Fire Service College, and as DFCO in Gloucestershire before becoming Firemaster (CFO) of Central Area in Scotland.  He retired as Chief Fire Officer of Avon. 

The sincere condolences of this Association are being sent to Frank’s widow, Betty, and his family.  Funeral details will be promulgated when known.

THE NFS AND THE NORMANDY INVASION 1944  (05/06) 

As the commemoration takes place of the D-Day landings in Normandy in June 1944 it is worth remembering that the National Fire Service sent a specially trained unit to Normandy under the title of NFS OVERSEAS CONTINGENT.  The Americans were particularly appreciative of the support the Contingent was able to give.  

To read a detailed account of the history of the Overseas Contingent log onto our website and go to the June 2014 edition of the newsletter The Branch.  The article starts on page 11.

CATHEDRAL FIRE MAY HAVE POISONED CHILDREN  (05/06) 

A child who was close to the recent fire in Paris that caused severe damage to Notre Dame Cathedral has been found to have high levels of the toxic metal lead in the bloodstream.  The fire spewed toxic lead into the air from the hundreds of tons of it in the roof.  Parents of children under seven who were close to the fire on April 15th have been requested to consult their GP and have blood tests done. Pregnant women who might also have inhaled the lead have been advised to see their doctor for tests.

INACCURATE ONLINE PENSION CALCULATIONS  (05/06) 

The Department of Works & Pensions has been forced to admit that the online forecasts of state pension payments given to people approaching retirement have in many cases been incorrect. The blame is being placed on an online ‘tool’ and the matter was brought to public notice only after the Royal London wrote to the minister.

The DWP is calling these errors “a significant problem” and work is on-going to provide accurate pension data to those logging on to the Government’s website.

BREAST CANCER DRUG DELAYS PROSTATE DISEASE  (05/06) 

A drug use to treat breast and ovarian cancer in women can delay prostate cancer becoming deadly in men.  This good news has been released by scientists who have found the treatment to be successful in 80% of male patients.  The name of the drug is olaparib.

NEW AERIAL LADDER PLATFORMS  (02/06) 

Dorset & Wiltshire FRS has purchased three new aerial ladder platforms.  They are in service at Swindon, Salisbury and Bournemouth (Westbourne).  The Bournemouth machine is 42 metres and the other two are 32 metres.  The 32 metres ALPs cost £740,000 each. 

An article will be published in the next edition of THE BRANCH about these very versatile appliances.

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GRENFELL INQUIRY FIRST PHASE REPORT  (17/05)

The public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster has completed phase one of its work and it is understood that the report is soon to be made public.  The expectation is that the report will be critical of individuals serving in the London Fire Brigade and of the Brigade as a whole.  In accordance with normal practice, the individuals named in the report will have been sent an advance copy of the report to give them time to prepare their response to the public and press once the inquiry’s criticism of them is made public.

DEATH OF GERALD BAKER  (13/05)

We regret to announce the death of Gerald Baker aged 85.  Gerald served throughout his fire service career in the control room at Potterne and was a Leading Fire Control Operator when he retired 20 years ago.

The funeral was held at West Wiltshire Crematorium, Semington on Tuesday 4th June 2019.

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DAVID WAKEFIELD  (03/05) 

Many WRFA members have expressed concern about David Wakefield and wish to have news of him.  David reports that the tumour in his sinus passages is slowly growing and because it is inoperable will eventually prove to be terminal.  David is keeping his spirits up and drawing great support from his family.  He is hoping to visit Lourdes in France soon with the Jumbalance Trust.  David sends his best wishes to all in the WRFA who know him and thanks you all for your concern and especially for your prayers.

GOVERNMENT DITHERS ABOUT FIRE SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS AT WESTMINSTER  (03/05) 

The Government is well aware that there is much needing to be done to bring fire safety arrangements at the Houses of Parliament into line with the 21st century standards.  On 16th October 1834 fire broke out in the old Palace of Westminster in the section used as the House of Lords.  Fire spread was very rapid and despite the valiant efforts of the London Fire Engine Establishment led by James Braidwood much of the historic building was totally gutted although the Westminster Hall was saved. 

The costly fire at Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris has again focused the attention of back bench MPs on the real risk that a similar fire will soon consume the Houses of Parliament.  The ancient electrical installation is a particular likely source of ignition. It’s only a matter of time unless the Government acts soon.

PEERS SEEKING TO MAKE THE ELDERLY POORER  (03/05)

A cross party committee in the House of Lords is proposing that many of the benefits to pensioners in the UK be withdrawn. In particular they wish to see free TV licences and the winter fuel payments taken away from all pensioners.  If you disagree with the proposal perhaps a letter to your Member of Parliament is appropriate.

FBU REJECTS PAY OFFER  (15/04) 

FBU members have shown strong support for the stance of their union in rejecting the latest pay offer from employers. 13.57% pay increase over three years was offered linked to firefighters accepting “open-ended contracts” that would remove boundaries to how fire & rescue personnel can be used by fire authorities.

58% of the FBU membership voted and a very high percentage of the votes rejected the pay deal. Another reason for the rejection was the uncertainty about whether or not the government would agree to fund any new pay deal

APPEAL FOR MINIBUS DRIVERS  (15/04) 

The charity, DEVIZES PHAB, is in urgent need of minibus drivers. The recent loss of people that drive the minibuses that are owned by the charity and are used to transport disabled persons to charity events is severely hindering the work of the charity.

An appeal has been made to the WRFA for help. If any member is able to volunteer their services to do some of the driving duties LINDA KEEPENCE would be very pleased to hear from you. Linda is the transport officer for the charity. Her telephone number is 01672 562618.

Drivers must hold a driving licence for Section 19 (D1) that qualifies them to drive small buses. The work will be concentrated in the Devizes area. Payment is available at the rate of £9.50/hour.

RETRO-FITTING OF SPRINKLERS TO HIGH-RISE BUILDINGS IN WALES TO BE GOVERNMENT POLICY  (07/04) 

The Welsh Government has announced that it intends promoting the fitting of sprinklers to all buildings in Wales 18metres or more in height if they do not already have such fire protection. This further widens the gap between the attitude of the Welsh Government to the use of sprinklers and that of the English and Scottish Parliaments.