SEARCH FOR MISSING RESIDENTS IN SPANISH BLAZE (23/02)
A fire that in many ways echoes the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower broke out at about 5.30pm on 22nd February in the Spanish city of Valencia. High winds and flammable materials used in the construction of this recently built 14 storey block helped the fire to spread very rapidly. A second block was engulfed defeating the efforts of firefighters to prevent fire spread.
Many residents were trapped and had to be rescued by firefighters but 4 are known to have died and the number of casualties is still being recorded. Many of the residents have still to be accounted for and many are missing. It is feared that the death toll will rise well above 4. Early commentators are asking why in 2004 a new residential block cannot be constructed that is fire safe.
LITHIUM BATTERY FIRES (14/02)
Lithium battery fires are now becoming quite common and they are proving a challenge to firefighters because they present such a fierce and stubborn fire. Manufacturers of firefighting portable equipment have developed FIRE BLANKETS designed to smother lithium fires. The prices range from about £100 for the smaller blankets measuring 4m x 2m to the largest product measuring 8m x 6m and costing about £700
IT GLITCH WITH FIRE PENSIONS FOR MILITARY FIREFIGHTERS (14/02)
The contract made with Capita to manage the pensions for retired members of the Defence Fire & Rescue Service has run into trouble. The computer software being used by Capita has bugs that are resulting in many errors in pension payments and delays in paying pensions due to newly retired personnel. Delays of up to 8 months in payments are being encountered. Capita have the contracted to take over the pension arrangements for the entire UK Civil Service with effect from next year
FIREFIGHTER’S DEATH INQUIRY DRAGS ON (01/02)
Over a year ago Firefighter Barry Martin lost his life fighting a fire in Edinburgh. Four other firefighters were injured. The official investigation is still not ready to report and both the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service and the Fire Brigades Union are withholding comment until the report is published. The fatality occurred at a building formerly used as a department store in the city centre.
DEATH OF MIKE STOTT (29/01)
We regret to announce the death of Mike Stott, former station commander of Westbury fire station. Mike passed away at home with his family around him on Sunday 28th January.
Mike’s funeral will be held at 2.45pm, on Monday 26th February 2024, at West Wiltshire Crematorium, Semington, BA14 6HL
PENSION FUND IN IT TROUBLE (29/01)
The WEST MIDLANDS PENSION FUND (WMPF) has bungled a computer upgrade that is having a very detrimental effect on its operations providing pension services to many public services that include some fire & rescue services. Some people are not receiving their pension payments and are being plunged into financial problems. Some have had to delay their retirement until the computer software error has been resolved. Dorset & Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service does NOT use WMPF and has instead contracted to use WEST YORKSHIRE PENSION FUND.
SEX OFFENDERS EMPLOYED BY DORSET & WILTSHIRE FRS (29/01)
A Freedom of Information request served on CFO Ben Ansell has resulted in a newspaper revealing that Dorset & Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service has kept in the service employees convicted of a sexual offence. Between 2019 and 2022 eight members of the service were reported and investigated in connection with alleged sexual offences. Four of those went on to be convicted. Two were dismissed and two continued in the service. Assistant Chief Fire Officer Jenny Long stated that a rigorous risk assessment was applied before the two were allowed to continue to be fire fighters.
DEATH OF ROY WITCHER (14/01)
We are saddened to report the death of Roy Witcher, former wholetime firefighter based at Salisbury fire station.
Roy’s funeral was held at T & I Stockman Funeral Directors chapel, 19 Holwell Road, Brixham, Devon, on Friday 26th January 2024. It is understood a number of our members attended. At the same time, a wake was held at the Royal Oak, Devizes Road, Salisbury attended by retired members of the service.
Donations in Roy’s memory to the Fire Fighters Charity may be made at:
DEATH OF STEVE BENSON (02/01)
With much sorrow it is reported that Steve Benson passed away on Tuesday 2nd January 2024.
Steve’s passing was peaceful. He has been suffering from dementia in the time before his death.
Condolences have been sent to Julie and the family. The funeral was held on Friday 2nd February 2023, at Kingsdown Crematorium, Swindon; and afterwards at the Coleview Community Centre, Towcester Road, Swindon.
DEATH OF ROY HARRIS (06/11)
With great sadness it is reported that Roy Harris passed away in Great Western Hospital on 4th November. He was admitted to hospital a few weeks before his death with an infection that treatment and Roy’s weak condition could not overcome.
Sincere condolences have been passed to Carole.
Roy’s funeral was held on Monday 27th November at North Wiltshire Crematorium, Swindon Road, Royal Wootton Bassett SN4 8ET and afterwards at Bassett Down Golf Complex.
DEATH OF MARK HILLIER (15/10)
With great sadness we announce the sudden death of Mark Hillier, serving watch manager in charge of Pewsey fire station.
CFO Ben Ansell has released the following statement this morning (13 October):
Everyone at Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is deeply shocked at the tragic loss of a highly regarded firefighter. Watch Manager Mark Hillier passed away last night following a road traffic collision in Pewsey. I know that I speak on behalf of the entire Service when I say that we are devastated by this news. Our thoughts and deepest condolences go out to his family, friends, colleagues, and loved ones at this extremely difficult time.
Mark joined Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service in October 1995 as an on-call firefighter at Pewsey fire station, where he became Watch Manager. Together with his on-call role, Mark also worked as a wholetime firefighter with Surrey Fire and Rescue Service for nine years, before transferring back to Dorset & Wiltshire, where he worked as a Watch Manager at Salisbury fire station.
Mark was recognised in 2021 with a Making a Difference award for his outstanding work and commitment to organising the ‘laptops for kids’ initiative.
In remembrance and as a mark of respect, our flags are flying at half-mast, across Dorset and Wiltshire. A fuller report can be found in the December edition of THE BRANCH.