Firefighters commemorated at 50th anniversary of Dudgeon’s Wharf tragedy

Firefighters have joined families of the victims of the Dudgeon’s Wharf disaster to mark the 50th anniversary of the tragedy.

Five firefighters and a construction worker lost their lives when an oil tank exploded at the site on the Isle of Dogs on 17 July 1969.

Dudgeon’s Wharf remains the greatest loss of life of London Fire Brigade staff since the Second World War. Firefighters Michael Gamble and Alfred Smee from Millwall Fire Station, John Appleby and Terence Breen from Brunswick Road Fire Station and Trevor Carvosso from Cannon Street Fire Station were all killed in the explosion as well as construction worker Richard Adams.

As a result of the incident, there were changes to legislation and a strict ‘Code of Practice’ now controls the removal of tanks which have contained flammable substances.

The incident also influenced the development of the Hazchem Code in the 1970s, meaning all known chemicals were allocated an identification code to help firefighters when dealing with chemical fires or spillages. It also provided information about what personal protection they needed.

At a dedication service held at the site earlier today (Wednesday 17 July), the Fire Brigades’ Union unveiled a red plaque in memory of the firefighters.

The service was attended by family members of some of the victims, London Fire Brigade staff and the Bishop of London The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally DBE.

Fireman Terrance Breen’s son Terry, who was five when his father was killed, gave a short reading at the memorial service.

Speaking about his father, the 55-year-old said: “Dad had been in the Brigade 12 years when  he was killed and my mum was left with me and my two brothers. It affected us all in different ways.

“He was a fantastic family man and we are all incredibly proud – you can’t not be proud of someone that has served in the Brigade.

“I’m always thankful we are able to mark the anniversary. It’s so important not to forget and to always honour their memory and we were very proud to be part of the service.”

The Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner Andy Roe said: “As a Brigade, it is so important that we take the time to remember lives lost and acts of bravery by firefighters.

“This incident and the tragic deaths it caused led to significant changes to the way we deal with chemical incidents to ensure the safety of firefighters.

“It is always devastating when it takes a tragedy for changes to be implemented and we look at all incidents we attend to make improvements to firefighter and public safety.

“As well as adapting and making changes to our own training, policies and equipment, we also lobby for changes to legislation.

“The changes implemented following this incident have been used worldwide undoubtedly helping to protect firefighters all over the globe meaning that the loss of life on that terrible day has not been in vain.”

The Bishop of London said: “It was a privilege to join together with the relatives of the disaster’s victims and lead them in prayer to honour all those who lost their lives that terrible day.

“Fifty years on, it is important that we continue to pay tribute to their work, remember their sacrifice and celebrate their legacy.” 

Deputy Mayor for Fire and Resilience, Fiona Twycross, said: “We will never forget those who lost their lives in the Dudgeon’s Wharf tragedy 50 years ago.

“Today’s anniversary is a reminder of the huge bravery and courage shown each and every day by our firefighters, as they put themselves in danger to keep Londoners safe.”

Firefighters commemorated at 50th anniversary of Dudgeon’s Wharf tragedy

Firefighters have joined families of the victims of the Dudgeon’s Wharf disaster to mark the 50th anniversary of the tragedy.

Five firefighters and a construction worker lost their lives when an oil tank exploded at the site on the Isle of Dogs on 17 July 1969.

Dudgeon’s Wharf remains the greatest loss of life of London Fire Brigade staff since the Second World War. Firefighters Michael Gamble and Alfred Smee from Millwall Fire Station, John Appleby and Terence Breen from Brunswick Road Fire Station and Trevor Carvosso from Cannon Street Fire Station were all killed in the explosion as well as construction worker Richard Adams.

As a result of the incident, there were changes to legislation and a strict ‘Code of Practice’ now controls the removal of tanks which have contained flammable substances.

The incident also influenced the development of the Hazchem Code in the 1970s, meaning all known chemicals were allocated an identification code to help firefighters when dealing with chemical fires or spillages. It also provided information about what personal protection they needed.

At a dedication service held at the site earlier today (Wednesday 17 July), the Fire Brigades’ Union unveiled a red plaque in memory of the firefighters.

The service was attended by family members of some of the victims, London Fire Brigade staff and the Bishop of London The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally DBE.

Fireman Terrance Breen’s son Terry, who was five when his father was killed, gave a short reading at the memorial service.

Speaking about his father, the 55-year-old said: “Dad had been in the Brigade 12 years when  he was killed and my mum was left with me and my two brothers. It affected us all in different ways.

“He was a fantastic family man and we are all incredibly proud – you can’t not be proud of someone that has served in the Brigade.

“I’m always thankful we are able to mark the anniversary. It’s so important not to forget and to always honour their memory and we were very proud to be part of the service.”

The Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner Andy Roe said: “As a Brigade, it is so important that we take the time to remember lives lost and acts of bravery by firefighters.

“This incident and the tragic deaths it caused led to significant changes to the way we deal with chemical incidents to ensure the safety of firefighters.

“It is always devastating when it takes a tragedy for changes to be implemented and we look at all incidents we attend to make improvements to firefighter and public safety.

“As well as adapting and making changes to our own training, policies and equipment, we also lobby for changes to legislation.

“The changes implemented following this incident have been used worldwide undoubtedly helping to protect firefighters all over the globe meaning that the loss of life on that terrible day has not been in vain.”

The Bishop of London said: “It was a privilege to join together with the relatives of the disaster’s victims and lead them in prayer to honour all those who lost their lives that terrible day.

“Fifty years on, it is important that we continue to pay tribute to their work, remember their sacrifice and celebrate their legacy.” 

Deputy Mayor for Fire and Resilience, Fiona Twycross, said: “We will never forget those who lost their lives in the Dudgeon’s Wharf tragedy 50 years ago.

“Today’s anniversary is a reminder of the huge bravery and courage shown each and every day by our firefighters, as they put themselves in danger to keep Londoners safe.”

Back of the net for firefighting exercise

Firefighters switched their normal training ground for Luton Town Football Club for a special exercise.

More than 30 firefighters were involved in the drill yesterday (Sunday, July 14), which tested Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s response to a fire in the main wooden stand.

The simulated environment meant four fire engines, an aerial platform, incident command unit and support pump and a number of commanders took part and implemented the Service’s incident command system.

Observers from St John Ambulance, the football club’s safety officer and staff from the venue also attended and learned about what happens in an emergency.

Watch Commander Gary Brogan, based at Luton, said: “The exercise was a great success and we would like to thank Luton Town Football Club Safety Officer Stephen Copp and the rest of the staff for the use of the stadium for us to practice our procedures.”

Training in different environments in the community helps test firefighters’ skills even more than normal and enables crews to learn in a realistic environment.

Crews that took part were Luton, Toddington, Dunstable, Stopsley, the incident command unit from Leighton Buzzard and support pump.

Chief Fire Officer scales new heights for charity

Bedfordshire’s fire chief will be hiking up Mount Kilimanjaro to raise cash for charity.

Chief Fire Officer Paul Fuller CBE will complete the seven-day trek in Kenya this September to raise funds for The Fire Fighters Charity and Children’s Burns Trust.

Ten-thousand pounds is the target for the Chief, who is trustee at both charities.

CFO Fuller said: “This is a huge challenge. I know it will be tough but it will be worth it to raise much-needed funds for these two great charities.

“Both charities are extremely important to me. They have moving and inspiring stories to tell of the life-changing work they do to support burns survivors and those in the fire and rescue community.”

The whole expedition will take about seven days, travel through four different climate zones and reach extreme altitude at almost 6,000 metres.

The Fire Fighters Charity provides services that enhance the quality of life for serving and retired firefighters, fire personnel and their families. The charity receives no government funding and relies on the generosity and enthusiasm of its supporters.

Children’s Burns Trust is dedicated to providing rehabilitation support for burned and scald injured children and their families, as well as prevention and awareness campaigns for which there is little or no national funding.

To find out more and donate, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/teams/paulKili

NIFRS Chairperson Wins UK ‘Champion for Women’ Award

Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) Chairperson, Carmel McKinney OBE, has won a UK ‘Champion for Women’ Award in the Rising Star Awards 2019. Carmel received the accolade in recognition of her work as a senior leader in actively supporting and nurturing female talent.

The UK wide Awards, sponsored by the Times and the Sunday Times, celebrate and recognise female contributors that represent the leaders and role models of tomorrow. Carmel is the only female from Northern Ireland to win and was one of 5 winners in the Rising Star ‘Champions’ category.

NIFRS Chairperson Carmel McKinney OBE said:

“As Chairperson of NIFRS, I am extremely passionate about mentoring, promoting and supporting women in the workplace and this award is very special in that regard.  To be the only female winner from Northern Ireland is a great honour alongside so many remarkable women. 

“Every day I encounter exceptional up and coming female talent. It’s great to see women supporting women in the workplace and learning from each other. As senior leaders we play an important role in nurturing and empowering those women who will become the leaders of the future and I am humbled by this recognition.”

Sponsored by the Times and The Sunday Times, Luxury Content Director, Lorraine Candy said

“Supporting women in the workplace remains important to our readers, as well as an important strand of the journalism we create. We believe these awards help shine a spotlight on the tremendous work being achieved in the female pipeline.”

Vanessa Vallely OBE, Managing Director, WeAreTheCity, said:

“I am so proud that for the fifth year running ‘WeAreTheCity’ has been able to shine a light on the achievements of so many remarkable women across the UK. Our 2019 winners join a ‘phenomenal alumni’ of 450 previous winners who continue to soar, both professionally and personally. It has been a truly amazing evening and I am ecstatic to welcome our 2019 winners to the ‘WeAreTheCity’ family.”

The winners were announced for the 2019 ‘WeAreTheCity’ Rising Star Awards and took place at a ceremony in the Landmark Hotel, London on, 3rd July.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service recognises on-call employers

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service has been recognising the great support of businesses across the county, by presenting employers of on-call firefighters with special commemorative plaques.

Companies that have agreed to release their staff to serve as firefighters at on-call stations for five years or more, were presented with a plaque to mark their contribution, which they can proudly display on their premises.

Area Commander Simon Newton, who presented some of the plaques, said:

“We really appreciate the commitment of the local companies who employ our on-call firefighters and we are delighted to have the opportunity to recognise this by awarding them with bespoke plaques.

“On-call firefighters are a vital part of our service, with many of our fire stations being in rural parts of the county. As on-call firefighters must live or work within five minutes of any of on-call fire stations, the Service relies on businesses to release their employees to respond to 999 calls in their communities and help keep residents safe.

“The employers we met ranged from farmers, engineering and financial investment companies and reflected the diverse range of skills the on-call bring to our service. Some of these local businesses have been releasing their on-call firefighter staff members for many, many years. It was fascinating to meet the employers and hear about how they make it work in their business despite some of the natural challenges it brings.

“The role of an on-call firefighter is hugely rewarding, and we hope to encourage members of the community from all backgrounds to get in touch and find out more about joining a station near them.”

The companies who were presented with plaques were:

  • R & J Constable, Littleport
  • Littleport Leisure, Littleport
  • Maximum Precision, Ely
  • Forester Life Ltd, Burwell
  • A. Butler & Son, Burwell
  • Rebmarc Ltd, Burwell
  • Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Trust, Papworth
  • Boswell & Son Ltd, Sawston
  • Pinewood Structures Ltd, Gamlingay
  • J & P Plant Ltd, Gamlingay
  • John Newman Bodyworks, Gamlingay
  • Halls Distribution Ltd, Gamlingay
  • G’s Fresh Beetroot Ltd, March
  • J Sainsbury Plc, March
  • Nightlayer Leek Co Ltd, March
  • Fensport Performance, Chatteris
  • Stainless Metalcraft (Chatteris) Ltd, Chatteris
  • Kimbolton School, Kimbolton

On-call firefighters respond to a wide range of incidents, from fighting fires, attending road traffic collisions, animal rescues to supporting other emergency services. In addition to responding to emergency incidents, our on-call firefighters support their communities by providing information and advice on a range of community safety topics.

To find out more about becoming a firefighter and to get in touch with your local fire and rescue service visit www.oncallfire.uk. The website also gives advice to employers and how having on-call firefighters within their business can bring advantages. These include health and safety and medical response training, as well as developing situational awareness, leadership skills and the ability to work under pressure.

Infographics supports Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service to streamline and enhance the Thames Valley Fire Control Service

Infographics today announced it has successfully streamlined and enhanced the mobilisation processes used by Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) within the Thames Valley Fire Control Service.

By integrating FireWatch and Capita Vision, RBFRS can now automatically share intelligent vehicle availability data between systems, and remove manual processes.

This latest phase builds on work undertaken as part of the wider deployment of Infographics’ FireWatch Fire Service Management platform, which connects RBFRS’ data, back office teams and front office operational staff to deliver a ‘complete picture’ of live organisation status.

The integration provides a level of live, connected management information and increased efficiency not achievable with separate silo systems. The result is a reduction in administration and enhanced mobilisation process within Thames Valley Fire Control Service.

The FireWatch-to-Capita Vision integration includes sharing directly via FireWatch this information, and the impact of live changes on vehicle needs and availability, with data coming from across the following areas:

•     Real-time, integrated HR, Training, Fleet and Availability

•     Vehicle level availability status based on resource needs and priority calculated to-the-minute

•     Graphical County-wide Availability Map status and change notifications of the same data

•     Mobile-optimised client, with booking on/off duty facility and real-time status views

•     SMS-based workflows and booking on/off duty processes with crewing exception notifications for managers

RBFRS plan to deploy Infographics’ latest version of the FireWatch Capita Vision interface as part of a future FireWatch upgrade. This will deliver a bi-directional interface, with FireWatch processing live incident data from Capita Vision to provide a ‘closed loop’. It will also further streamline processes around time and attendance, and pay and maintenance of competency with event-related processes initiated automatically in the FireWatch system.

Jim Powell, Area Manager for Service Delivery at RBFRS said:

“Through the integration of our FireWatch and Capita Vision systems, we have streamlined some of the ways that data is shared and used in the organisation.

“We are committed to investing in information and communication technology that helps to improve the efficiency and resilience of our Service. This will help us to deliver a more effective service to the communities we serve.”

Russell Wood, Commercial Manager at Infographics, said:

“We are delighted to have assisted Royal Berkshire to successfully deliver this project. By working closely with multiple UK Fire Services and Capita to provide a standard set of bi-directional Mobilisation interfaces, we are able to enhance further the operations of our customers.

“FireWatch already connects departmental data, teams and processes to provide an integrated and accurate ‘big picture’ of resources and status. This same pre-calculated and integrated data is now available to Capita Vision and other Mobilisation systems, and the collection and processing of event-related data can also be greatly streamlined in the other direction.”

NEWARK FIRE STATION SHORTLISTED FOR INFRASTRUCTURE AWARD AT RICS AWARDS 2019

A state-of-the-art redevelopment of Newark Fire Station has been shortlisted for an award at the prestigious Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Awards 2019.

The new £3.0m Newark Fire Station took just over 12 months to construct and replaces the previous 1960s station. The new build includes office space, meeting rooms, fire engine bays and external training tower. The new facility includes several energy-saving features, including intelligent lighting and solar panels fitted to the roof, both of which will reduce future running costs.

Ian Pritchard, Assistant Chief Officer at Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “To be shortlisted for this award is a testament to the hard work of everyone involved with the project.

“This was the first time we kept a full-time fire station operational whilst a new facility was built on the same site.

“This would not have been possible without the collaborative approach taken by Turner & Townsend, The Gelder Group and Maber Architects.”

Richard Cropley, District Manager for Newark and Sherwood said: “I think the station shows the Service’s commitment to serving the community in Newark for many years to come – with the station expected to have a life of 50 years.”

Mark Deakin, Director at Turner & Townsend in Nottingham, added: “It was great to have the opportunity to support the Fire Service in the development of Newark Fire Station. Through a true team effort, we were able to overcome the site’s challenges and ensure that the scheme could be delivered on time and within budget.”

The RICS Awards recognise excellence in the built environment and showcase the successes of RICS professionals and their impact on local communities. This year’s ceremony will take place at the prestigious Mercure Leicester The Grand Hotel in Leicester on Wednesday 15 May.

Chief Fire Officer’s Commendation for control operator who saved a life

A control operator from Thames Valley Fire Control Service (TVFCS), whose quick-thinking saved a woman from a house fire, has been commended for her actions.

Michelle Peacock received the Chief Fire Officer’s Commendation of the Year at the Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service and Community Safety annual achievement evening at Blenheim Palace on Wednesday, 17 April.

In the early hours of 5 January 2019, Michelle took a call from a woman in distress, asking for firefighters to attend a fire at her house in Banbury. The resident had woken up to the sound of their smoke alarm as their front door had caught fire.

From the Thames Valley Fire Control Service, based in Calcot, Reading, Michelle rapidly mobilised the required fire appliances and was consistently reassuring to the caller, helping them remain calm.

Whilst doing this, Michelle sent additional information to her team. This was then passed to oncoming fire crews, so they were fully prepped to deal with the emergency.

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer Simon Furlong said: “The most impressive thing throughout the entire call was Michelle’s compassion, reassurance and professionalism. 

“She is a well valued member of the Thames Valley Fire Control Service. Her actions, on 5 January, undoubtedly saved a life.” 

Michelle, 32, from Wokingham, was just nine months into her role at TVFCS when the incident took place, having previously worked in a similar job for the ambulance service. She used all her training and experience to avert a more serious outcome.

She commented: “My training was still fresh in my mind, and we always have refreshers and in-house training taking place. I gave the woman fire survival guidance while she was in her bedroom, something which is drummed into us during training, because ensuring the person’s safety is  paramount.

“It’s good for Thames Valley Fire Control to be recognised, because our job is all about teamwork and being professional. This particular incident was in Oxfordshire but we serve the whole of the Thames Valley.” 

Thames Valley Fire Control Service, in Calcot, Reading, handles all fire and rescue emergency calls for the whole of the Thames Valley area, covering Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Royal Berkshire.

BAPCO 2019

The 26th BAPCO Annual Conference and Exhibition took place at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry. The 2019 event was co-located with TCCA’s Critical Communications Europe, which enabled even more topics to be covered to a wider European audience. A primary focus was the roll-out of major public safety networks themselves, most importantly the Emergency Service Network (ESN), a great deal of new discussion around how the technology is likely to be used.

Acting CEO of FirstNet, Ed Parkinson, kicked off day one, he discussed ‘global co-operation and co-ordination for public safety wireless programmes,’ giving an overview of the current adoption of FirstNet across the US, with the network having been up and running for around nine months.

Jason Karp started his presentation on the ‘smart connected ambulance’ by describing its benefits in relation to a hypothetical multi-vehicle accident scenario. These included the ability to live stream bodyworn video footage from the scene, instant access to medical details via the scanning of the patient’s driver’s licence and Bluetooth-connected stethoscopes allowing multiple parties to listen to their heartbeat. Karp stated, “I predict 100 per cent LTE adoption by public safety within 18 to 24 months.”

The start of day two began with its own keynote session, from ESN Programme Director Bryan Clark on the theme ‘2019: the year vision becomes reality’. The theatre was packed as he reiterated the reason for the roll-out of ESN in the first place, focusing on the benefits it will bring to emergency services personnel.

Karp’s presentation from day one was further expanded on day two by co-founder of The Public Safety Network (and former president of FirstNet), TJ Kennedy, in his presentation on ‘the Internet of Life Saving Things’. He stated: “I believe that we [public safety] need to change the model where we’re using older technology than most consumers and most enterprises. In the future – and I can’t predict what day that will be – when 6G and 7G arrive, public safety across the world should have access to those technologies.”

In addition to this, the Showcase Theatre provided an opportunity for visitors to gain advice from industry experts and suppliers about how certain products, services and resources could be used to enhance best practice in one’s organisation.

There was standing room only in the Showcase Theatre for Mike Isherwood, Managing Director from APD Communications Ltd who held a session on ‘managing demand in public safety control rooms.’ Isherwood emphasised how managing control room demand is one of the biggest operational challenges faced by the emergency services and dived into the challenges and opportunities it presents.

New for 2019, the Drone Zone became home to the live demonstrations from Keith Robinson, Managing Director at Airvis Ltd. A drone was linked up to the live BAPCO TV stream and footage was streamed on screens across the exhibition, across social media platforms and on dedicated channels.

Dr Pippa Malmgren, Co-Founder of H Robotics focussed on ‘the aerial revolution: the transition of toy drones to robotic tools’ in the Drone Zone. Malmgren highlighted how technology in this sector has rapidly developed and the impact of drones on public safety and how they assist in saving lives.

The show floor also featured the Networking Lounge, Connected Vehicles, Members’ Lounge and Press Lounge, as well as over 102 suppliers, charities and organisations keen to speak with visitors about their needs. The wide range of exhibitors demonstrated some of the most innovative and cutting-edge products, services and resources, with some even having exclusive on-stand show offers and competitions. Sponsors exhibiting included Motorola Solutions, Samsung, APD Communications Ltd, Ericsson, Frequentis and Hexagon, Tait Communications and 3tc Software.

Nick Ross, Head of Criminal Justice and Public Safety for Samsung said “BAPCO is the main event for us and we get all the right people in the room over two days and have the best conversations.”

Matt Govett, Managing Director of MA Exhibitions, said: “BAPCO 2019 has been an absolutely incredible event. We are delighted as the organisers to be able to work with BAPCO, putting on their biggest show to date, we have seen a record number of exhibitors, record number of visitors and increased amounts of content across all the streams. There is a great buzz around the show, loads of positivity and we’re really looking forward to how we can build on it going forward into next year.”

Ian Thompson, CEO of British APCO, said: “BAPCO 2019 was a very successful event with increased numbers of visitors leading to higher levels of participation and interaction both in the conference and with exhibitors. We continue to build the association and the event to help our members meet the challenges encountered daily in critical communications and public safety technology. Being at BAPCO 2020 helps you to do the same.”

BAPCO 2020 will take place at the Ricoh Arena, 10-11 March 2020.