As the evenings get colder and darker, and the Christmas lights are mostly up, we quickly approach the end of another year. A year which will always be remembered for the worse loss of life in a fire since the war.
How can I look back on 2017 in the fire service and not reflect on the tragedy that unfolded at 00:54 on the 14th June. 71 people have so far been confirmed to have died within the tower block, with a definitive number not expected until 2018. The far reaching effect of this fire has been felt throughout the world. I believe that the consequences of this fire will continue for years. I can see we will have a change in fire safety law, new equipment will be purchased and I would like to think the government will seriously consider any further cuts to the UK fire service budgets.
This year we have seen the FBU go to court and fight over firefighters pensions, only to lose and be sent to an appeal which is set to be heard this month; Fingers crosses for many of us!
We have seen a battle over EMR calls, a battle over our pay and MTFA. We have seen new figures come out last month showing fires are on a rise, unfortunately not only fires but also deaths in fires.
The fire service has had to deal with many terrorist attacks this year we have assisted our 999 colleagues in coordinating a response to help the people affected by these atrocities. Our role is constantly evolving, as a service now we are dealing with such a variety of incidents. But as our role is changing do we risk being a jack of all trades and a master of none? Will we see more firefighters get injured in fires over the coming years because more of our trade is moving away from domestic and commercial firefighting?? Unfortunately only time will tell.
What has amazed me over this year, and it’s probably more prevalent now with 24 hour news and social media, is how many rescues from fires we make each year. How many large fires we attend and how much good work is still going on within the Fire and Rescue Service. In the face of huge budget cuts year on year, we are still out keeping the public safe with fire safety advice and school visits. We are still there in your worst hour of need. If you pick the phone up and ask for a fire engine we will be there, granted now with less Firefighters and smaller fire engines but we will be there, trying to help wherever we can!
So enjoy your Christmas and your New Year celebrations. Just take a moment to think about the brave men and women that are keeping you safe this festive period not only in the Fire Service but all our emergency services who give up their Christmas and family time to help in your hour of need.