The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has published its concern about a national rise in fires being started deliberately in 2020.  The concern is reflected locally by the fact that between April and June 2020 the number of cases of arson rose by a staggering 91% on the previous three months.

The actual number of deliberate fires in that period was 327 in Dorset & Wiltshire.  There are no figures available to the WRFA on how many fire setters were caught by the police and prosecuted.  The rise in arson coincides with the first three months of the coronavirus lockdown.


19th November is the anniversary of ‘THE GREAT FIRE OF CRIPPLEGATE’ in London in 1897.  The fire started in a five storey warehouse stocked with ostrich feathers.  The buildings in the area were mainly warehouses similar to the building of origin with little fire separation and narrow streets.

The fire quickly involved exposure risks and in less than 90 minutes four other warehouses were well alight.  The fire continued to spread despite the efforts of the crews that had galloped to the job with 45 horse drawn steam fire pumps.  Water supplies were adequate but the steamers ran out of coal!   The conflagration was not stopped until 56 buildings had been destroyed.


A fire in the hospital at Piatra Neamt in Romania has killed 10 Covid-19 patients and critically injured 7 others.  The fire started in the Intensive Care Unit and is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault.

ITUs are usually well staffed but clearly the fire must have defied their efforts to control and extinguish it before lives were lost.  ITUs are known to use vast quantities of oxygen.  Had a leak turned the unit into an oxygen rich area?


A firefighter based at Swindon was dismissed during his first year in Dorset & Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service for a series of failures in conduct that included missing an emergency call because of sleeping in ear plugs and flirting with a woman while attending an incident.  On appeal to industrial tribunal in Southampton the judge found that Dorset & Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service had made procedural errors during the dismissal process and ruled that it was therefore an unfair dismissal.  The firefighter was awarded £6,765.


There is good reason to believe that some married women on state pension are not receiving their full entitlement.  There is a simple and very quick method of checking online. by logging on to the above and answering the simple questions you should be given confirmation that either the correct sum is being paid or there is an underpayment that requires a claim being made.

You will need the figure to hand for the tax year 2019/20 or 2020/21.  If you don’t have the figures to hand just click on “NOT SURE”.  It is important to understand that this check applies only to BASIC PENSION.

For further guidance or information please contact the Secretary of Wiltshire Retired Firefighters Association, John Craig, on 01380 726343


Simon Routh-Jones has been made Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s Honours List announced on 10th October 2020.  The citation states that the honour has been conferred for services to the fire & rescue service.

Simon is currently Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire Services for Scotland.  As a former CFO of Wiltshire Simon is a WRFA member and all members join in congratulating him for the recognition his work has received from the Queen.



A 34 year old female on call (retained) firefighter serving at Totton Fire Station has had a heart monitor the size of a paper clip implanted in her heart to enable doctors to try to find out why she is suffering occasional black outs.  The device is a pioneering piece of medical technology known as a LINQ II.

The firefighter was enrolled into the Service even though at age 18 she broke her neck in a car accident and ever since has had “often erratic episodes”.

An app on her smart phone provides the communications link to University Hospital, Southampton.  Clearly, medical standards in the fire & rescue service have changed since the days when even a lack of eyesight acuity would bar applicants from entering the service.  Nowadays you can get in with a heart condition.


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.