News

.

BRIAN SAYS “THANK YOU”  (17/02) 

Brian Gray is still in hospital but wishes to say a sincere thank you to all who have sent to him and Jackie get well wishes of support.  The very good news is that the extreme pain he is experiencing is not due to cancer.

Biopsy tests have pinned down his problem to a deep seated infection in the bone in his nasal area. To treat this he must undergo weeks of antibiotic treatment administered intravenously in hospital.  He is currently in hospital in Oxford and it is hoped that he will soon be transferred to GWH, Swindon.  All the good wishes we can muster are sent to Brian.

CHANNEL 4 TV TO PROBE FIRE BRIGADE ACTIONS AT GRENFELL  (13/02) 

Channel 4 will broadcast a TV documentary on Monday February 18th at 8.00pm that will examine how the policies and actions of the London Fire Brigade influenced the Grenfell Tower disaster. The public inquiry into the disaster has completed its first phase and recommendations are anxiously awaited. In giving her evidence to the inquiry the Fire Commissioner of the LFB, Dany Cotton, has gone on record as stating that she would change nothing about the Brigade’s actions on the night. No doubt this has provoked the TV company into analysing in depth how the fire brigade’s actions and policies relate to the 72 deaths caused by the fire.

We wait to see to whom the TV company and, indeed, the inquiry has turned to form expert and unbiased professional opinion on the operational performance of the LFB. Fire Commissioner Cotton was very new in post when the disaster happened and much of the fire safety policy and operational procedures that are likely to be criticised were put in place by her predecessors.

COUNTING THE COST OF ANDOVER WAREHOUSE FIRE  (13/02) 

The full cost of the fire that recently destroyed an automated warehouse in Andover, Hampshire has yet to be calculated. What is known already is that the share price of Ocado, the grocery company that owned and operated the massive warehouse, fell by 15% in the immediate aftermath of the blaze. The cause of the fire is still under investigation but it is believed that one of the 1100 battery powered robots operated within the warehouse may have caught fire.

NHS MENTAL HEALTH UNIT DAMAGED BY SEVERE FIRE  (13/02) 

At Tamworth in Staffordshire one wing of a mental health unit has been severely damaged by fire. One man has been arrested on suspicion of arson. The eleven people being treated at the unit escaped the fire unharmed. The fire was prevented from spreading to other wings of the NHS facility.

FILE ON FORMER CFO OF GLOUCESTERSHIRE SENT TO CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE  (13/02) 

The Police have completed their investigation into the circumstances that led to Stewart Edgar, the former Chief Fire Officer of Gloucestershire, resigning after a whistle blower revealed an unusual arrangement concerning the disposal of a fire service Land Rover Discovery. The police file has been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service who will decide whether a criminal charge is appropriate. Mr Edgar gave as his reasons for his early retirement his desire to spend more time with his family.

MASSIVE ANDOVER BLAZE DECLARED A MAJOR INCIDENT  (07/02) 

A fire at a massive automated high bay warehouse in Andover has been burning for days and has been declared a major incident. Fire appliances and crews from all over the south of England are attending in support of Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service. Support from Dorset & Wiltshire FRS is being given and crews from as far away as Kent and Oxfordshire are also involved. Because of the large clouds of toxic smoke created by the fire an evacuation of people downwind has been carried out with rest centres being activated to give them temporary accommodation.

FIRE PENSION BATTLE GOES TO SUPREME COURT  (01/02) 

The long and bitter battle between the Fire Brigades Union and the Government over fire pensions seems likely to go to another legal stage. The FBU won their case at the Court of Appeal in December when the judgement was that the change to fire pension schemes was unlawful on the grounds of age discrimination. The Government has applied for the judgement to be heard and overturned by the Supreme Court.

The FBU has submitted an objection to the case going to the Supreme Court because it is the union’s view that there is nothing further to be argued in law. If the Government is allowed to appeal and lose it again, the cost to the increase to pension funding nationally has been estimated as £4 billion.

DEATH OF MICK TURNER  (31/01)

It is with regret that we have to inform you that former Sub Officer Mick Turner sadly passed away recently aged 78.  Mick joined Wiltshire Fire Brigade in 1975 and retired in 1993.  Mick served as an on-call (retained) Firefighter, Leading Firefighter and Sub Officer at Swindon Fire Station. 

The funeral will take place on Tuesday 19th February at 12:00 at Kingsdown Crematorium, Swindon.

FUNERAL OF JACK DREWETT BEM  (26/01) 

The funeral of EDWARD JACK DREWETT B.E.M. (Jack) took place on 24th January 2019 at West Wiltshire Crematorium.  The cortege paused outside Trowbridge Fire Station to accept the show of respect given by the duty watch and corporate staff at Trowbridge Fire Station who paraded on the station forecourt. 

The attendance at the service at Semington was massive clearly showing how many people had been touched by Jack during his life.  The eulogy was read by Jack’s granddaughter, Rachel.  RIP Jack

FUNERAL OF ROY EVANS  (25/01) 

The funeral of ROY EVANS took place at Sherston Parish Church on Friday 18th January 2019.  Roy served at Malmesbury and the personnel of that station, supported by crews from Cricklade and Tetbury (Glos) paid their respects to Roy in some style.  Roy’s coffin was carried on Chris Wannell’s restored wartime turntable ladder. 

Roy was not a WRFA member but his widow, Juliette, has expressed interest in joining the Association.  (Photo by Wilts & Glos Standard)

SEVEN HERTFORDSHIRE FIREFIGHTERS AWARDED THE QUEEN’S GALLANTRY MEDAL  (01/01)

In the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List seven members of the Hertford-shire FRS were awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for their bravery when rescuing 35 very elderly residents from a fire at a care home in Cheshunt.

The fire occurred in the early hours of 7th April 2017 and started in the roof.  Fire spread was very rapid and the whole roof was soon involved putting the elderly folk in their individual rooms at risk of their lives.

Firefighters realised that evacuation was not an option and all those trapped would have to be rescued while the roof and ceilings started to collapse.  Firefighters in some cases used their own bodies to shield those being carried to safety from falling burning debris.  The seven honoured repeatedly re-entered the burning building to effect rescues.

The WRFA sends congratulations to the medal recipients:

Crew Commander Daniel Cooper
Firefighter Wayne Ansell
Firefighter Simon Best
Firefighter Christopher Meadows
Firefighter Rodoslaw Pejk
Firefighter Ricky Davis
Firefighter Simon Waddington

DEATH OF JACK DREWETT B.E.M  (29/12) 

With much sorrow the death of our member, JACK DREWETT B.E.M is announced.  Jack passed away peacefully at home in Trowbridge on Friday 28th December.  The condolences of the Association have been sent to Jack’s widow, June.

The funeral was held at Semington Crematorium on Thursday 24th January 2019.

FBU WINS IMPORTANT COURT CASE ON PENSIONS  (27/12) 

The Fire Brigades Union has won a very significant victory in a court case the union brought against the Government.  The General Secretary of the FBU, Matt Wrack, has explained that the case started during the days of the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition and was sparked off by new entrants to the service being placed on a new fire pension scheme that gave them substantially worse benefits than the older schemes. The FBU claimed that this was age discrimination and therefore illegal.  The judge found in favour of the FBU.
.

OUR CHAIRMAN INJURED  (19/12) 

Our Chairman, CHRIS WANNELL, has had a fall and sustained injuries. He has bruised face, hands and arms but his most serious injury is a fractured rib. His GP has warned him he must guard against developing lung infections and pneumonia and he has to do breathing exercises every three hours.

We wish Chris the speediest possible recovery and that his enjoyment of Christmas will not be too marred by his injuries.

NEW MEMBER; John Aldridge  (19/12) 

We are delighted that John Aldridge will be joining WRFA as soon as he retires as ACFO on 31st December 2018.

John joined Wiltshire Fire Brigade at Salisbury in 1977.  As his career progressed he moved to Surrey in 1993 and then returned to Wiltshire Fire Brigade in 1999.  He was appointed ACFO in the Dorset & Wiltshire FRS in 2016.

John is married to Lesley.  We look forward to hopefully seeing John enjoying being a member of our Association for many years.

NEW MEMBER; SIMON MAGGS  (19/12)

We are delighted to welcome SIMON MAGGS into membership.  He served for 21 years as a retained firefighter at Amesbury.  Simon comes from a family with a long and proud history of fire service.  He is married to Laura.

We wish Simon many years of happy times in this Association.

NEW MEMBER; Harold Porter OBE, QFSM, FIFireE  (19/12) 

It is a joy to welcome Harold Porter into membership of the WRFA.  Harold was better known as ‘Howard’ throughout much of his fire service career.

He joined as a fireman in Lincolnshire in 1947 and there followed a distinguished career with him commanding Cumbria Fire Service at CFO before being appointed as HMIFS at the Home Office.  Harold retired from the service in 1985.

Harold is a widower and has recently moved to Tetbury.  We hope that Harold will enjoy a long and fruitful membership of the WRFA.

MEDAL PRESENTATION TO CFO ANSELL  (19/12)

At the WRFA Christmas Lunch on 15th December 2018, CFO Ben Ansell was presented with the BFSA Commendation Medal and Certificate. This was in recognition of his outstanding leadership already displayed in the Dorset & Wiltshire Fire & Rescue service.

The presentation was made by John Craig in his capacity as Senior Vice President of the BFSA.