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


The GREEN NEW CAR ASSESSMENT PROGRAMME (NCAP) has published recent test results that show some plug-in hybrid cars are more damaging to the environment than diesel and petrol powered cars.  The NCAP tests were conducted under conditions that simulated real driving conditions in contrast with the previous laboratory/workshop style tests.  For example, air con running was included and payloads were added plus the tests were carried out at a temperature of 14C.

Plug-in hybrid cars that were shown to be potentially more damaging to the environment than diesel and petrol cars included the Mitsubishi Outlander, Kia Niro and Toyota Prius.


With great regret and sadness the death of Chris Strange is reported.  Chris passed away at his home in Tisbury with his wife and family present, in the early hours of Wednesday 24th February.  For over three years Chris has been suffering from prostate cancer.  Every possible support will be offered to Lynn and the family.

Chris’s funeral was held on Wednesday 24th March at Salisbury Crematorium.  The OIC at Tisbury fire station held a 2 minutes silence in the drill yard on Monday evening 29th March.

The eulogy to Chris has been published in the April edition of THE BRANCH.


At a coroner’s inquest into the death of a London firefighter’s suicide colleagues gave evidence that he had complained of boredom and the job not meeting his expectations.  The deceased was Jaden Francois-Esprit, who tragically at age 21 took his own life at his home in Wapping.  Jaden’s parents feared that their son’s death may have been due to him being racially bullied but colleagues disputed this and claimed that boredom was the principal cause of Jaden’s depression.


Writing in the Daily Telegraph on 17th February 2021, Jill Kirby, draws attention to the way that she believes some public service unions are not covering themselves in glory by the way they are behaving during the present pandemic.

After mentioning the National Teacher’s Union that Jill claims has instructed its members to be prepared to strike in an effort to secure a substantial pay rise on the basis that they are “key workers”, the columnist attacks the Fire Brigades Union.  Jill Kirby claims that the FBU has “failed to rise to the challenge of the pandemic” pointing out that at a time when fire & rescue service calls fell to an all-time low in 2020 the FBU is doing its level best to prevent its members volunteering for additional duties that would assist in protecting the public from the Covid-19 virus. 

Drawing her article to a conclusion, Ms Kirby states, “Firefighters didn’t sign up to sit around waiting for a call.  They expected to be putting themselves at risk to save others from danger.”


An estimated 500 road tankers carrying petroleum products have been destroyed at a customs post in Western Afghanistan near the town of Herat.  The tankers were waiting to be allowed across the border into Iran. 

A series of massive explosions completely destroyed the post and decimated a large area.  NASA reported that the blast was so severe it was seen from space. 17 people were injured in the explosion but so far the damage is so severe that emergency services have not found any bodies although they expect to do so. 

An appeal to Iran for help resulted in 11 fire engines and a fleet of ambulances being sent by the Iranians.  The cause of the explosion is yet to be determined.


The FIRE BRIGADES UNION has taken the Government to court again and won.  The case was heard by the Employment Appeals Tribunal and arose from the Government’s failure to swiftly implement the restoration of pension rights to thousands of firefighters after the Government’s fire pension scheme was judged to be ageist and therefore unlawful.  That judgement created a bureaucratic nightmare for fire authorities and the Government because of the significant costs and workload it created.

This is most unwelcome on top of the problems generated by the pandemic. Nevertheless, the latest court case will require the authorities to buckle down and adjust the pension schemes in the fire & rescue service so that they comply with the law.


It is with extreme sadness that we have to announce that Chris Wannell passed away at 7.20am on the 8th February 2021.  He collapsed in his bathroom last evening having suffered a stroke.  He was admitted to GWH, Swindon but the bleed on his brain was not survivable and he passed away this morning.

Chris’s funeral was held at St Bartholomew’s Parish Church, Royal Wootton Bassett on Friday 26th February 2021.

To access the Chris Wannell charity fundraising page, click HERE

 We have all lost a great friend and colleague who will be sorely missed by a massive number of people who benefited from knowing Chris.

The eulogy to Chris was published in the April edition of THE BRANCH.


The first phase of the Public Inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster that cost 72 lives uncovered some serious weaknesses in the London Fire Brigade.  This resulted in 29 recommendations for improvement in the Brigade.

Mr Matt Parr of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary & Fire & Rescue Services has publicly expressed his concern that the LFB has done little to put right its weaknesses and should another fire of similar severity occur in LFB’s area it is unlikely that it will be dealt with any better.  Only 4 of the 29 recommendations have been addressed and signed off.


It was on 23rd January 1958 that the poultry section of Smithfield Meat Market in London suffered a very serious fire that claimed the lives of two LFB members, Station Officer Jack Fourt-Wells and Fireman Richard Stocking. The fire started in the basement that was a maze of passages extending over two acres.

Heavy smoke logging called for very extensive use of Proto breathing apparatus. The two deceased lost their way in the basement and ran out of oxygen.

Pumps were made up to 40 but the fire spread to involve the whole building which collapsed.