News

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DEATH OF GEORGE PRATT  (12/10 & 18/10)

We have been greatly saddened by the news that George Pratt passed away on the morning of 11th October 2021 in a care home in Royal Wootton Bassett.  Sue and Caroline were by his bedside.  There have been concerns about George’s health for some time.  A brain tumour was diagnosed a few months ago.  Condolences and our sincere sympathy have been sent to Sue and the family.

The funeral will be at 2.45pm on Friday 22nd October 2021, at Malmesbury Abbey.  Restricted numbers so early attendance to secure an inside place is recommended.  Service will be broadcast through speakers to Abbey grounds.

SHORTAGE OF ‘ON CALL’ CREWS IN WILTSHIRE  (02/10)

The failure of two Wiltshire fire stations to attend fires close to their stations very recently has placed a focus again on the gaps that exist in the ‘on call’, formerly known as ‘retained’, fire and rescue service.  The call to a chimney fire at a thatched property in Ramsbury required an 18 minutes attendance from Marlborough because Ramsbury was off the run due to crew shortage.  A call to a property fire in Melksham produced no response from the local fire station and the job had to be dealt with by crews from Trowbridge who did very well to attend in only 11 minutes.

The Service response has been to publicise another appeal for people to join the ‘on call’ fire & rescue service.

BRITISH FIREFIGHTERS TO FIGHT GREEK WILDFIRES  (08/08)

Firefighters from London, South Wales, Lancashire, West Midlands and Merseyside are being sent to Greece to give assistance in dealing with the wildfires that are raging out of control there.  A Greek firefighter has died fighting the wildfires.

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OUR NEW CHAIRMAN  (02/08)

At the AGM of the Wiltshire Retired Firefighters Association held at Bowood Hotel Spa and Golf Resort on 1st August 2021 Louise Fielding was elected as Chairman of the WRFA.  Before retiring from Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service Louise was the head of human resources.  She has served on the Executive Committee of the Association for several years and is a popular choice to lead us forward.

REPORT INTO 57 DAY FIGHT TO DEAL WITH SWINDON WASTE FIRE  (07/07)

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.

FIREFIGHTER KILLED AND MANY INJURED  (06/07)

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.

DEATH OF DAVID WAKEFIELD  (22/06)

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

DEATH OF SHEILA HALE  (19/06)

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

APPOINTED AS CO-CHAIR OF POLICE & CRIME PANEL  (17/06)

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.
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DEATH OF PAUL FULLER CBE, QFSM  (07/06)

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.

FIREFIGHTERS PAY  (06/06)

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.