My role as Editor has provided the opportunity to broaden my fire-sector knowledge and the opportunity to see where, with shared knowledge and a common voice, fire professionals can make a difference to our overall built environment and to the development and use of future firefighting technologies.
I recently attended a seminar with a number of eminent fire professionals. In that seminar I raised the question as to why the Fire Sector seemed to have such difficulty in having its concerns raised and listened to. The question resulted in a useful debate and discussion that day and the conclusion was the need to work with our partners and government using facts and evidence to seek the right answers and to move on from what has been an adversarial relationship. Of course, this requires mutual trust, respect and understanding, but arguably there will be no better time or motivation to achieve this than now.
Following this seminar and debate, how satisfying it was to read a positive statement on fire safety issued by the Secretary of State for Communities, the Right Honourable James Brokenshire MP, just three days later. The statement from the Secretary of State describes how he has recognised what the wider fire sector has been campaigning for over many decades. He said:
“There is nothing more important than ensuring people are safe in their own homes.” He went on to say: “That is why I am announcing a package of measures focused on improving building safety, having listened carefully to the concerns which have been raised.”
It’s a bold statement, and one we can all agree with, although I’m sure we’d like to see it expanded from just homes to the wider built environment. Let us all sincerely hope that we can continue to have our concerns listened to and that we may contribute to shaping the remedial action that should follow.
Whether we are engaged in designing buildings and all other elements of occupancy, managing a building and its occupants, or dealing with the consequences of some sort of failure, human or systems, we all have experience that can benefit fire safety in the longer term. With mutual respect, an open mind, a desire to share information and a common voice, the fire sector is in a strong position to make society safer.
Grenfell continues to dominate both the thoughts and news for our wide profession. The public enquiry is now underway, and we have to place our trust in professionals to explore the facts surrounding all facets of the tragedy and therefore we expect to see a thorough examination of all areas. It does seem unfortunate that the mass media seem to be only interested in the sensationalist news of the day rather than recognising and reporting with a wider view.
In an ideal world, a balance of wide-ranging facts would be presented to enable a better interpretation of events leading up, during and after the tragic fire. In reality, what we have seen is a focus on specific elements with an unusual line of questioning around the particular actions of individuals, which lacks the context of such a unique incident. In a number of stories published and broadcast, selective information has been sensationalised resulting in ill-considered soundbite reports and headlines.
As the enquiry progresses we need reporters and presenters to deliver a thorough and transparent consideration of all relevant facts or is that an over optimistic wish?
As for those who have already stood as witnesses, including those whose actions on that tragic night were targeted at saving lives at risk to their own, we can only hope that members of the public who follow the news media retrospectively consider all of the facts as they emerge and take a considered and objective view.
The sector has established bodies and we would like to help in sharing their aims and aspirations across our readership, the Institution of Fire Engineers appeared in Issue 1 and will be regular contributor in the future. We are therefore pleased to have an article in this issue from the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC). From a Fire and Rescue Service perspective, the NFCC has a critical role to play in shaping the fire and rescue services of the future and in engaging with central government through the Home Office. We would welcome articles from other professional bodies to support one of the magazine’s key aspirations of sharing information across the sector.
Issue 1 attracted overwhelmingly positive feedback from our readers as well as suggestions as to how we may make the magazine even more attractive to our broad readership, something we recognised from day one that would need to develop. We will seek to evolve the magazine and I would ask that you keep the feedback coming to assist us. To that end, UK Fire will be exhibiting at the Emergency Services Show on 19 and 20 September at the NEC, we would be pleased to see you on stand H68 to meet the team, share any feedback or discuss any suggestions you may have.
Those attending The Emergency Services Show will see first-hand a range of innovative equipment and software solutions available to operational emergency-service staff. The event serves as a forum to meet and share experiences with colleagues from all disciplines. Presentations provide opportunities to hear from sector specialists and to consider developments in the response world. In this issue we have published an Emergency Services showcase, detailing a range of products on show. If you are attending the show, we hope this will help you navigate the wide range of exhibitors and products. For those unable to attend, the showcase provides a taste of what is available in the market and gives details to find out more.
For more information, email [email protected]