On 10th September 2020 Beirut docks was again the site of a very serious fire although not nearly as serious as the recent disastrous fire and explosion involving ammonium nitrate. This time the blaze involved mainly stocks of oil and motor tyres in a warehouse.

The Beirut Fire Department called upon the help of a helicopter to water bomb the fire. Beirut Fire Department is still mourning the loss of several of its members at the previous fire disaster. That fire killed an estimated 200 people. The figures are still estimated because many people are missing and are assumed dead.


The severity of wildfires now sweeping massive areas of several states in the west and north west of USA is being seen as unprecedented.  In the State of Oregon an estimated half a million people have had to evacuate and many will not have homes to which to re-turn.  There have been many deaths already and the death toll is sure to rise because there are many people posted as missing.

Firefighters are overwhelmed by the scale of the fires.  The Governor of Oregon has stated that the area that has been burnt in the last three days is larger than the total area lost to wildfires in a typical year.  Smoke from the fires has drifted so far south that the city of San Francisco has had natural sunlight almost eliminated turning mid-day into twilight and creating health problems too.


On 4th August at Lake Louise mobile home site in Latton, near Cricklade, from his home on the site WRFA member, PETE WIXEY, saw smoke coming from a neighbour’s caravan.  Pete and another neighbour went to the caravan involved after ensuring a 999 call had been placed.  From outside the caravan Pete tried to alert the man known to be living in the caravan that was now heavily smoke logged.  On getting no response Pete took the courageous decision to enter to search.  In the door way was a duvet that was on fire and causing much of the smoke. 

Pete drew on his past training and experience and searched beyond the door.  Deeper into the caravan he found the male occupant, thought to be in his 50s, in an unconscious state.  Pete brought the casualty to fresh air and in doing so very probably saved his life.  Four pumps and a water carrier attended from Dorset & Wilts FRS.  An ambulance also attended and the casualty was taken to hospital.  He is recovering from smoke inhalation and burns.

Well done, Pete! We are very proud of you!


In the year ended March 2020 the UK fire & rescue service attended more ‘non-fire incidents’ than fires.  There were 171,911 calls to incidents that did not involve fire and 153,957 calls to fires.  These figures represent a 37% increase in non-fire calls over five years.

Prominent among the non-fire incidents dealt with were road traffic collisions and flooding.  Attendances to assist at medical emergencies fell by 8% over the year.  This is being attributed to withdrawal of co-operation by the Fire Brigades Union.

(Photo by Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service)


The National Fire Chiefs Council has begun to press for firefighters to be equipped with body cameras.  The NFCC has accumulated reports of attacks on fire crews and these are increasing rapidly and at a rate that is causing concern.

The NFCC has joined the representative bodies representing the other emergency services in strongly advising that the maximum sentences for attacks on emergency service personnel should be reviewed urgently and significantly increased.



The motto of the Beirut Fire Department is ‘Sacrifice and Loyalty’.

The massive explosion that has laid waste a significant area of the city and claimed many lives certainly has called for the members of the Fire Department to live out their motto. The casualty figures are still being compiled but it is known for certain that at least 10 members of Beirut Fire Department are known to have died. These were the crews of the first attending pump and a fast response car. The body of one of the firefighters, a female, has been recovered but the other nine are still missing and their remains may never be found.

The explosion is believed to have been caused by a fire in a warehouse in the dock area involving 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate. A primary explosion was followed by a much greater blast that wiped out the fire crews and their vehicles.


With very great sorrow the news is brought to you of the passing of Peggy Thorpe who was the oldest member of the WRFA.  Peggy passed away peacefully at 8.00am on 3rd August 2020 at a care home in Derry Hill.  Peggy would have been 100 next month.  Peggy’s daughter, Janet, has given out the information that there will be a cremation service but only herself and her husband, Peter, will be attending as mourners.  A member of the clergy will minister at the very simple committal.

Peggy was the much loved wife of the late Peter Thorpe who reached senior rank in the Wiltshire Fire Brigade before retiring and then serving as secretary & treasurer to the WRFA for very many years.  Rest in peace, Peggy.


Having given full coverage to the failings of the London Fire Brigade revealed by the Public Inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster the press and media seem to have temporarily lost interest in reporting on proceedings at the inquiry. Here is a brief summary of some of the information recently given to the Inquiry.

  • The lead fire consultant ‘ignored’ a very significant email relevant to cladding.
  • Grenfell architect couldn’t recall being conversant with the regulations governing construction of high rise buildings.
  • A meeting that should have taken place to agree and confirm the type of cladding to be used in fact never took place.
  • The cladding inspector failed to read the building regulations thoroughly.
  • Grenfell contractors gave priority to costs.
  • Corporate witnesses have been granted immunity from prosecution.

As the Public Inquiry slowly continues to uncover the circumstances that led to the disaster it is known for certain that there are at least 2,000 high rise buildings in the UK that are still occupied and in use despite having the lethal external cladding in place.


This concerns those WRFA members who pay their annual subscription to the association by automatic deduction from the fire pension paid by Dorset & Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service. You will have expected that the deduction of £10.00 will have been made from the April pension payment as in previous years. There has been a problem due to an oversight by West Yorkshire Pension Fund which means that the deductions have yet to be made and paid into the WRFA account.

WYPF have admitted their error and apologised. The deductions will be made from the pension payments due at the end of this month.


The Medicines & Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued a warning within the last week that a serious fire risk has been identified linked to the use of creams and ointments that are in widespread use to treat skin conditions such as eczema. The National Fire Chiefs Council has added their warning too.

The danger arises because many of the treatments use paraffin as a base. When the creams or ointments contaminate clothing and then dry, the cloth or fabric becomes easy to ignite and burns fiercely. A significant number of deaths and injuries have been recorded which has led to the joint warning. The containers for the paraffin based products do display warnings but in very small print often missed.


Harold has been diagnosed as having a malignant growth in his bowel.  A CT scan has confirmed that the cancer has not yet spread making surgical removal of it an option.  The plan is for Harold, who is 95 years old, to have the surgery in two weeks time in Cheltenham.  We wish Harold a very rapid and complete return to health and will do all we can to assist him to recover.



There is widespread indignation at the Old Baily trial verdict concerning the death on duty of PC Andrew Harper of Thames Valley Constabulary in August 2019.  Three teenagers living on a traveller site near Reading were cleared of murder but convicted of man-slaughter.  PC Harper died from multiple injuries when he was dragged for over a mile behind the offender’s car.  They have yet to be sentenced.

Throughout the police service there is condemnation of the failure of the Crown Prosecution Service to pursue a murder charge.  On a wider scale, the case is being quoted as an example of how the UK justice system fails to give adequate protection to emergency service workers.  Calls for a retrial are growing based partly on emerging evidence that there could well have been intimidation of some jurors.