It is a privilege to lead one of the top-performing fire and rescue services in the country and one that has been officially rated as good in all areas of work.
Our excellent report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate for Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, looking at how effectively and efficiently we prevent fires, protect the public and respond to emergencies, was quickly followed by more scrutiny into how we rose to the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis. Again, I am delighted to say we came out with top marks.
In line with our colleagues we have had to quickly adapt to a new way of working and demonstrate versatility and creativity in many areas as we continue to support our local communities through difficult times.
It was hugely humbling and satisfying to see how collectively we stepped forward with the National Fire Chiefs Council campaign to show we were ready, willing and able. Our work to date has included delivering vital training to staff in care homes, delivering much-needed Protective Personal Equipment to GP surgeries, collecting and delivering prescriptions and medical equipment, shopping for those most in need and keeping in contact with the elderly who were facing increased isolation due to the Covid-19 restrictions.
We have also delivered emergency food parcels to the most vulnerable and in need and provided more than 100 volunteers to help out at vaccination centres.
Our day-to-day work had to change rapidly and we quickly introduced on-line home fire safety checks for residents alongside going into homes where possible and virtual sessions for businesses where we offer support and advice on the latest fire safety.
We also support the NHS Make Every Contact campaign with crews provided with digital tablets to use during Safer Homes assessments. These enable information to be quickly accessed and shared in order to signpost any areas where further help and advice may be needed. This could include alcohol consumption, smoking and other health needs.
Unable to get into most homes, we also made hundreds of fire-safety calls to the many people at home during the various restrictions and lockdowns. Our staff also put vulnerable families as a top priority with supporting phone calls and signposting where other help, if needed, was available.
We were also delighted to help out with the roll-out of the much-needed vaccine supplies across the Brigade area. During the Covid-19 crisis we have been an integral part of the Local Resilience Forum and working with our partners to ensure our local communities get all the support they need.
The Brigade puts the health and wellbeing of our staff as a top priority and has many support networks. These include mental health, LGBT, disability and women’s groups. We are fully supportive of a diverse and inclusive workforce.
Cleveland Fire Brigade employs approximately 600 people across our fire stations and at our Training & Administration and Technical Hubs in Hartlepool. We service our area via four Districts.
- 332 whole-time (FT) firefighters at eight whole-time stations and 96 retained firefighters at six stations. 108 support staff
- We have 14 fire stations staffed according to local risk and activity levels:
- Six whole-time stations in main urban areas (Middlesbrough, Grangetown, Thornaby, Coulby Newham, Billingham and Hartlepool) providing cover 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.
- Six retained stations in mainly rural areas (Headland, Yarm, Guisborough, Loftus, Saltburn, Skelton) with retained staff living or working within five minutes of the station. Staff respond to any emergency night and day, 365 days per year.
- Two mixed whole-time/retained stations in urban areas (Redcar, Stockton) with a mixture of crews working whole-time and retained to provide cover 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.
Cleveland is an area in the North East of England and incorporates the unitary borough authorities of Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, and Stockton-on-Tees.
Cleveland Fire Authority provides fire and rescue services to an area of approximately 597km2 across the above four borough council areas. The Brigade’s area is centred around the mouth of the River Tees and we protect a population of 569,141 with 254,258 dwellings and 14,782 industrial and commercial premises.
Cleveland is a major production centre for the chemical industry with 29 ‘top tier’ COMAH sites, located within the area. These sites represent a high hazard in the local area. Should serious incidents occur in such sites, it would take the deployment of significant fire-service resources, in terms of both equipment and people with suitable skills and abilities, to tackle safely.
We have seven solar-powered energy farms, 12 onshore wind farms, one offshore wind farm and two biomass (wood pellets) power stations are being constructed in Port Clarence and Tees Port to produce electricity for the national grid. The demand to build renewable energy sources is expected to grow as Tees Valley has been awarded UK Government Care Status as a centre for Offshore Renewable Engineering.
Cleveland is the seventh most densely populated fire authority area in England; only the big Metropolitan Brigades (city areas) are more densely populated.
Cleveland shares many of the inner-city-type problems that are a key feature of the Metropolitan Brigades, such as older 19th-century low-cost housing (terraced), derelict land, high unemployment, congestion, high density of buildings and narrow roadways not fit for modern usage.
The Brigade meets its challenges through the four Districts serving each of its local authority areas:
The population within the Cleveland Fire Authority Area is 566,150. This is expected to increase by 1.5% to 569,141 by 2041
- 29 of 81 wards fall within the 10% most-deprived wards in the UK,
- More than half the population (56%) live in wards that are in the 20% most-deprived wards nationally,
- Health and life expectancy is significantly worse that the average for England.
Our other initiatives
We have several projects to support our strategic themes, including Safer Homes, Safer Roads, Safer Neighbourhoods and Safer Buildings. We also work with partners and agencies on improving the health and wellbeing of our local communities.
- Learn and Live – programme delivers challenging presentations to thousands of young people on fire safety and driving to help them make educated safety choices and influence changes in behaviour. Road safety focuses on the fatal four – driving at speed; driving while distracted; drink/drug driving and wearing seatbelts.
- Befriending Service – we were commissioned by Hartlepool Council to provide a free Befriending Service for lonely and isolated people in Hartlepool. We match volunteers with individuals who support them by phoning or visiting and help build confidence so they can participate in activities. One resident, 85-year-old Peggy, cried when a hot meal was delivered during Covid-19 and described staff and volunteers as ‘angels with wings’.
- Stay Safe and Warm – we are the only fire and rescue service in the country to run this annual campaign to ensure no one is struggling with heating during the colder months from October to March. This started in 2008 and provides a free home assessment and, if required, there is an option to borrow heaters and other equipment such as thermal blankets or flasks. We also offer Safer Homes visits and direct residents to advice on managing fuel bills, signpost them to where funding is available and make referrals for free boiler repairs or replacements where necessary.
- INSPIRE – we run various youth schemes with INSPIRE the largest. It is aimed at 15 to 29 year olds not in education, employment and training (NEET) with a series of residential courses to help improve confidence, leadership, problem solving and communication skills. The programme also helps with CV writing, job searches and interview techniques, and funding is available for smart interview clothes and travel expenses for participants Our Youth Development team also deliver road-safety programmes to primary schools.
For more information, go to www.clevelandfire.gov.uk