A Swindon Borough Council report has just been published into the fire at Averies Recycling plant in Swindon in 2014.  The fire took 57 days to extinguish and the report concludes that one reason for this is that the many agencies involved in dealing with the incident created confusion and doubt as to who was actually in charge of putting out the fire.  The 1947 Fire Services Act, used to make clear in law that the person in charge of fighting a fire was the senior officer attending from the fire service in whose area the fire originated.  This didn’t prevent that fire officer liaising and consulting with other agencies and services but the law, long since repealed, made clear who was in charge.


A fire broke out on 5th July at the Ming Dih chemical factory in Samut Prakan Province of Thailand.  As firefighters struggled to contain the fire a violent explosion occurred the sound of which was heard 10 kilometres away.  Some thought that an earthquake was happening.  There were a number of dead and injured; full details are not yet available but among the dead was a 19 year old volunteer firefighter. After 15 hours the fire was eventually brought under control.


With great sorrow the death of WRFA member, REV. DAVID WAKEFIELD is announced.  David passed away at home in Devizes peacefully and with his family around him on 21st June 2021.  David spent most of his time since retiring early from Wiltshire Fire Brigade in Christian service based at the church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Devizes where he had been ordained as a Deacon.  Our sincere condolences have been sent to Liz and all David’s family.

Rest in peace, David


Sheila Hale Passed away in Westbury Care Home on 31st May 2021 aged 86.  For many years Sheila served as the cook at Wiltshire Fire Brigade HQ in Potterne.  For a time she was a member of our Association.  Her funeral will take place at Christ Church, Worton and it will be for family only. Donations in Sheila’s memory may be made to Dorothy House.  Rest in peace, Sheila


Wiltshire Council has appointed COUNCILLOR ROSS HENNING as co-chair of the police and crime panel.  In 1967 Councillor Henning was imprisoned for being part of a drug smuggling ring.  The ring smuggled £500,000 worth of cocaine from Bolivia.  He maintains that his rehabilitation from his criminal past gives him a unique outlook to bring to the panel.  He represents the Liberal Democrats on Wiltshire Council.

A criminal conviction does not disqualify from service on the panel.


With great sadness the death of Paul Fuller is announced.  He passed away in the early hours of 7th June 2021 in hospital where he was being treated for cancer of the esophagus.  His family were at his bedside.  Paul was due to retire as Chief Fire Officer of Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue Service on 30th June 2021.  On his way to the top in the service Paul served as Assistant CFO in Wiltshire Fire Brigade.

A letter of condolence is being sent to Paul’s widow, Helen, from this Association.  Rest in peace, Paul.

A letter has been received from CFO Hopkinson, detailing arrangements for Paul’s funeral.  To open, click HERE.


UK firefighters have been offered a pay increase of 1.5%.  The Fire Brigades Union General Secretary, Matt Wrack, has replied to the offer by stating that although it falls short of the union’s claim for a pay increase matching inflation, the National Executive of the FBU will be consulting the membership with a recommendation that the offer be accepted.  Matt Wrack has explained that the FBU notes that many public sector services are being told that they must accept a pay freeze and the FBU expected to be placed in the same situation.


With sorrow the death of WRFA member Graham Law is announced.  He died peacefully in GWH, Swindon on 25th April 2021.  Contact has been made with Graham’s family through his daughter, Rachel, and condolences have been expressed.  Graham’s funeral was held at Kingsdown Crematorium on Wednesday 19th May.

An obituary will be published in the June edition of ‘The Branch’. R.I.P Graham.




Crew Manager Stephen Wharton of Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service has been awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for the part he played in rescuing a young boy from the River Eden in February 2019.  CM Wharton is based at Appleby Fire Station.  He and his crew showed great courage and initiative in rescuing the boy who had been in the water for an estimated 20 minutes.  CM Wharton had to remove his personal buoyancy aid to enable him to dive below the water to locate the child.

Fire fighters helped ambulance crews resuscitate the boy who, after a considerable time in hospital, has made a full recovery.


Chief Fire Officer Ben Ansell has announced the very sad news that recently retired GUY TADMAN passed away on 29th April.  Guy served for 22 years at Trowbridge Fire Station and was a watch manager at the time that acute myeloid leukaemia forced his early retirement.  Guy was first diagnosed in November 2019 and was given a stem cell transplant that unfortunately failed to cure the cancer completely.

The funeral was held on Monday 24 May.  Because of current Covid restrictions, this was a private family service.  A minute’s silence was observed across Dorset & Wiltshire FRS and CFO Ben Ansell extended an invitation to other FRSs to join with in.  Following the silence, the funeral cortege traveled from Trowbridge fire station to West Wiltshire Crematorium.

An obituary for Guy has been sent to the Wiltshire Times, which includes details of how to make donations to Wiltshire Air Ambulance in Guy’s name.  To read the obituary and/or make a donation, click HERE.

The Wiltshire Retired Firefighters Association sends deepest condolences to Guy’s family, friends and colleagues.


The sad news is reported of the death of Prim Wright on 13th April 2021.  Prim was the wife of Keith Wright who for many years served in the Finance Department of Wiltshire Fire Brigade HQ at Potterne. 

Prim and Keith lived in Worton and Prim played a large part in the life of the village.  She will be sorely missed, not only by Keith and her family, but also by the very many friends she had in the village.


Roy Wilsher OBE, QFSM, FIFireE, started work on 12th April 2021 as the newly appointed independent advisor on fire to the Home Office.  He will give his expert input to the work being done to produce a government White Paper on reform of the fire & rescue service. 

Mr Wilsher was the Assistant Commissioner of London Fire Brigade after being CFO of Hertfordshire.  He has also held the office of Chairman of the National Fire Chiefs Council.

Death of HRH Duke of Edinburgh  (10/04)

The Wiltshire Retired Firefighters Association joins with the whole nation in mourning the very sad loss of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His fine example of service to others, particularly to family, country and commonwealth, he has left behind to continue to inspire and encourage us. He was blessed with a very long life and we salute him for the way he put his years to good use.

Our deepest sympathy goes out to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, who found such unfailing support from her consort’s love, encouragement and wise counsel.

As a sailor we know that in common with all who go down to the sea in ships Prince Philip will have been inculcated with a respect for the danger fire represents and he will have been trained in methods of fighting fire. We feel that this draws us closer to him and reminds us of the many links between his profession and ours.

May he rest in eternal peace.


On 1st April 2021 the Isle of Wight Fire & Rescue Service was amalgamated with Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service.  The ten fire stations on the island are under the control of the newly formed joint fire authority.  The amalgamated service has over sixty stations.



Indonesia’s national oil company is called ‘Pertamina’.  A very serious fire is in progress at the Pertamina refinery in Balongan in West Java.  The fire involves storage tanks.  It has been burning for two days and is expected to burn for at least another five days.

The company has admitted to five people being injured and 950 being evacuated.  The company claims that up to now the refinery’s processing plant has avoided fire damage and it is the storage facilities that are ablaze.


Despite the restrictions imposed by the corona virus law the funeral of our Chairman, CHRIS WANNELL, was an event so brilliantly arranged by the family that it proved a fitting tribute to him and it also reflected credit on the fire & rescue service.  The cortege was led by the 1943 Austin turntable ladder, ‘Martha’, that carried Chris’s coffin escorted by a Guard of Honour of firefighters in full ceremonial dress. Three other vintage fire engines with brass work gleaming in the bright sunshine made up the cortege and these carried the family mourners and the floral tributes.

The cortege toured areas of the town and when it passed by the fire station the station personnel paraded on the forecourt to bid farewell to their former station commander.  The streets were lined with towns folk clapping as the cortege drove past slowly.  Rest in peace, Chris

To access the Chris Wannell charity fundraising page, click HERE