Welcome to this, our 14th issue of UK Fire. It is almost four years since we embarked on providing readers with an independent, no cost to readers magazine for those based or with an interest in the UK fire industry.
It was with great sadness that I recently learned of the death of one of the great characters of the UK Fire and Rescue Service, Chief Fire Officer Paul Fuller. I feel very fortunate to have known Paul, and our paths crossed many times on both a professional and personal level. Paul epitomised what is great about the fire profession.
Paul served as a uniformed member of the fire and rescue service for 43 years, joining the West Midlands Fire Service in 1978 in a career that took him to West Sussex, Staffordshire and Wiltshire before being appointed as the Chief Fire Officer of Bedfordshire and Luton Fire and Rescue Service in 2002.
Paul’s influence always extended well beyond the Services in which he served and included working to support the Fire Fighters Charity, the Children’s Burns Trust and Fire Sport UK. Paul also served as the President of the Chief Fire Officers’ Association as well as a range of other professional fire bodies. Paul was awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal in 2008, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2016 and a Member of the Order of St John in 2018.
Our sympathies go to Paul’s family, friends and colleagues. There is no doubt his positive influence, wisdom, guidance and sheer enthusiasm will be missed by all who knew him.
In my last editorial I referred to the planned easing of lockdown restrictions that had been scheduled for June. As a result of the scientific and medical evidence provided, the UK Government and devolved administrations deferred moving to Step 4 and their equivalent levels until mid-July and as a nation we are now getting used to life that is closer to what we had pre-pandemic, although caution remains necessary with daily increases in new infections and the spectre of a third wave never far away.
In this issue we are pleased to publish an article celebrating the 80th anniversary of the formation of the National Fire Service on 8 August 1941. This epic transformation to align equipment and practices to deal with wartime attacks on Britain continues to leave its legacy through many of the standard fittings that continue to be used in modern-day firefighting and through the drills that continue to form the bedrock of initial training eight decades on. My thanks to Neil Wallington whose knowledge of and access to information on UK Fire Service history has ensured we recognise and appreciate the planning and application that led to a wartime National Fire Service that set global standards.
The fourth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower sadly passed with limited coverage. Time does move on, but who could ever have believed that the memories of those horrific scenes broadcast globally would be so quickly consigned to history. More so, I don’t think anyone engaged in fire engineering would have believed how little would have changed in the four years after that tragic night in June 2017. I take no pride in the fact that I predicted that interest in Grenfell would be eroded over time and with the global pandemic remaining as headline news it has become all too easy for mainstream media to move on to other stories. Phase Two of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry continues and at the risk of being a broken record I again urge all fire professionals to maintain an active interest in proceedings and to ensure we do our best to keep the incident, the victims of the fire and the many lessons to be learned at the forefront of the minds of all charged with delivering a fire-safe environment.
Looking ahead, the easing of restrictions is supporting the opportunities for us to move away from our screens and go back to face-to-face meetings. Of course, we will continue to use our experience in mastering virtual meetings, but the opportunity to genuinely operate using our non-verbal communication skills to develop and build relationships is something I am sure we all look forward to.
The Emergency Services Show is once again being held at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre. The show, which runs on the 7 and 8 September, brings together exhibitors and speakers from all of the UK emergency services, including manufacturers, service providers, trade organisations and provides a fantastic opportunity to meet with other professionals and to see and discuss the latest innovations in fire safety, fire suppression and emergency response. The MDM Publishing team will be attending the event and will be on stand K70 at the show. Please come and say hello and share any feedback, thoughts or ideas you may have to help us develop the magazine, our partner publications and websites.
I have previously made the plea to fire professionals at all levels to consider attending this or other events. The opportunities for free CPD events, engaging with manufacturers, sharing ideas and meeting with other professionals can give a fantastic return on the investment of your time.
Wishing you all well, stay safe.
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