News

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PROBABLE BAN ON FOAM CONTAINING FLOURINE  (20/03) 

For decades firefighting foams that contain fluorines have been used successfully throughout the world. But now the environmentalists are claiming that such foams are harmful to the environment and pressure in growing in USA and in Europe to have them outlawed. This is challenging fire services internationally to find an alternative type of foam that keeps the environmentalists happy whilst putting out ‘Class B’ fires safely and efficiently.

HELPING THOSE IN SELF-ISOLATION  (20/03) 

The Executive Committee of the WRFA has been active in taking steps to offer as much support as possible to those members of our association who live alone and have gone into self-isolation until the threat from the corona virus has passed. Members of the committee have each taken the phone numbers of some of those who are isolated and the plan is the call regularly to enquire about their health and welfare. If any problems or needs are reported such as difficulty with shopping or obtaining medicines no stone will be left unturned to give the assistance required.

FIRE DEATHS ON THE INCREASE  (20/03) 

Recently published statistics show that in 2019 the number of fires in dwellings in England fell by 5% but fire deaths increased by 9%. The National Fire Chiefs Council has asked for a deeper analysis of these figures to be carried out to identify why the fires occurring in domestic property are causing more deaths.

RESCUE 365 FIRE TRAINING COMPANY COLLAPSES  (07/02) 

In 2014 Mid & West Wales Fire Authority set up an arm’s length company to sell fire safety training and raise income for the fire authority. The company was called RESCUE 365 and it has ceased trading with debts amounting to £427,000.

POLICE INVESTIGATING INTO DEVON & SOMERSET FIRE TRAINING COMPANY  (07/02) 

The arm’s length company set up by the Devon & Somerset Fire Authority to sell fire safety training is in debt by £600,000 and the police have been called in to investigate. The fire authority made a loan of £200,000 to the company when it began trading.

MINISTER QUESTIONED ABOUT “COMPETENT FIRE SAFETY INSPECTORS”  (03/02)

During a Parliamentary Committee Debate chaired by North Wilts MP, James Gray, on 28th January 2020 the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Rt. Hon. Esther McVey MP (see photo) was put under intense pressure. The debate was initiated by Matt Rodda MP who wished to hear the minister’s answers to the many questions about the chaotic state of fire safety raised by him and others.

The Secretary of State did her best to cover a range of issues and gave a strong indication that the Government was preparing a Fire Safety Bill hoping to deal with the many urgent and concerning issues. During her answer she referred very briefly to enforcement and mentioned that there would be competent inspectors appointed. She was immediately interrupted by Clive Betts, the MP for Sheffield South East, who asked the minister to clarify who the Government regarded as “competent inspectors”. The minster avoided an answer that would have been recorded in the minutes and brushed the question aside by saying she would write to Clive Betts MP.

Perhaps some of the WRFA members have views on the predicament in which the Government finds itself and would care to write to their own MP about this.

DWP PUBLISHES EXPAT PENSION GUIDANCE AHEAD OF BREXIT  (28/01) 

The Department of Work & Pensions has confirmed that the UK state pension will be protected by the Withdrawal Agreement in new guidance examining the rights for UK nationals after the UK has left the EU. The guidance gives reassurance that UK nationals living in an EEA state or Switzerland by 31st December 2020 will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. The UK state pension will be uprated every year that an individual continues to live there, regardless of whether the pension was claimed after 1st January 2021.

DEATHS FROM SEPSIS INCREASING RAPIDLY  (19/01) 

Research is now showing that SEPSIS kills more people globally than cancer. The number of sepsis deaths per year in the UK has been recorded as 48,000 and the number of cases is rising significantly every year. This means that more people die from sepsis than from cancer.

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GRENFELL ADVISOR APPOINTMENT CRITICISED  (19/01) 

The fears of survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire disaster that the Public Inquiry will become a “whitewash” that will shield the guilty received enhancement when Benita Mehra was recently appointed to assist the judge conducting the inquiry.

Ms Mehra is alleged to have run a body that received £71,000 from the American company that made the cladding for Grenfell Tower. The concern is that this link between Miss Mehra and a company that ought to be placed under careful scrutiny by the inquiry renders her unable to act without prejudice and give unbiased advice to the judge. A Cabinet Office reply to the concerns indicates that no link is perceived between the donation and the matters under investigation by the inquiry.

DEATH OF RUTH CRUDGE  (13/01)

We regret to announce the death of Ruth Crudge yesterday morning.  Ruth was the partner of the late Bert Goodship who retired as Brigade Training Officer of WFB.

Her funeral was held on Wednesday 29th January 2020 at St Andrews Church, Long Street, Devizes.

AUSTRALIAN WILDFIRES  (06/01) 

At the request of our Chairman, Chris Wannell, a letter has been sent from the WRFA to the Australian High Commissioner in London expressing our admiration for the work being done by the rural fire services in Australia at this time of unprecedented wildfire crisis. The letter expresses our sympathy to those who are the bereaved relatives of the three firefighters who have died fighting the fires.

As our letter was being sent word arrived from Chrissie Hodges, a widow member of the WRFA living in New Zealand. Chrissie reports that despite the distance involved smoke from the Australian fires has drifted over to NZ and turned the sky an eerie orange colour and created a pervasive smell of smoke.

DEATH OF ARTHUR HAYWARD  (02/01)

We regret to announce the death of Arthur Hayward, who served as a cleaner at BHQ Potterne.

His funeral was held at Kingsdown Crematorium, Swindon on Monday 20th January 2020.
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LUDO AWARDED MBE  (28/12)

It was a distinct pleasure to learn that our WRFA colleague, Ludo Macaulay,  has been honoured with the MBE in the New Year’s Honours List.  The award has been made for voluntary service to the community and the Firefighters’ Charity (Wiltshire).

A full report can be found in the January 2020 edition of THE BRANCH.  Heartiest congratulations to Ludo.

THE DEATH OF GEORGE JOHNSON BEM  (27/12) & (03/01)

With much sadness the death is reported of GEORGE JOHNSON BEM, one of the WRFA’s oldest members.  George died on the night of 24th/25th December.

George served with great distinction at Marlborough and retired as a retained Sub Officer.  For his outstanding service he was awarded the British Empire Medal. George was a keen supporter of the WRFA and did his best to attend our social events even when he was over 90 years of age. He will be sorely missed.  Rest in peace, George.

The funeral was held on Friday 10th January 2020 at North Wilts Crematorium.

Speaking to Lynn Blake, George’s niece who made the arrangements, it was her idea to make us the beneficiary of the donations because she knew her Uncle George thought so much of WRFA.

The funeral was conducted by Canon Henry Pearson who was able to administer the last rites to George hours before he answered his last call.  Chris Wannell kindly agreed to the use of his veteran turntable ladder, ‘Martha’, to carry George on his last “shout”.