Blogs from Police &   
 other Emergency Service Workers

Fire: Inspiration taken form MEN's Neal Keeling and his battle with cancer

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A few weeks ago I used my blog to offer my best wishes to Neal Keeling, the Manchester Evening News reporter who has covered fire for many years.

My best wishes were for his battle with cancer.

Neal has continued that battle - and boy, has it been a battle - and the truth is he doesn't know whether he has won it yet.

He has penned another remarkable piece and deployed all his (enviable) literary talents to explain and describe what he has been through.

Amazingly, he has been able to combine humour (yes - humour) with an incredibly honest exposition.

All of us have lost someone to this terrible disease. For many of us (me included) it's a very very scary thing , which if we can avoid thinking about or dealing with then we do (certainly I do).

But in a strange way Neal's writing has just taken the edge off that fear and many people will find it not only very helpful but also quite inspirational.

Have a look. And, by the way Neal, keep fighting!

Fire: Tragic death of two GMP officers

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Today, the emergency services in Greater Manchester and across the UK were deeply saddened by the tragic death of two female police officers in Tameside.

It has been a devastating day for Greater Manchester Police and the county as a whole and on behalf of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to the force.

I would also like to offer my sincerest condolences to the families and friends of the two officers who lost their lives while carrying out a routine job - this is a heart-breaking time for all who knew these two women.

The incident is a chilling reminder of the risks faced by brave emergency services workers everyday of their lives in order to protect the community.

The two women were shot in Hattersley this morning and the shootings led to the arrest of wanted murder suspect Dale Cregan.

I can only echo the thoughts of my colleague in GMP, Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, who said earlier that a "long and dark shadow has been cast across Greater Manchester."

Fire: Chief's blog

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It's a year on from the riots and lots of analysis and reflection about what caused them, what's changed and so on. But the headlines are being grabbed by commentary about police tactics and the learning from that with barely a mention of the role of the fire and rescue service.

In a sense this is understandable, but I didn't want to let the moment pass without a bit of reflection of our own.

During the events themselves, the performance and approach of all our personnel in every corner of the service was outstanding, and the courage and bravery of the crews facing the same ferocity and attack as police colleagues was exemplary. It really was a great example of services working together in the face of extreme challenge.

In the immediate aftermath though, the 'newer' people in the service came into play with volunteers and fire cadets and other young people's programmes getting out on the streets to play a key role in the clean-up phase (something we saw again just a few weeks in Shaw).

Subsequently, we have really cranked up our volunteer work and...

Continues,

Fire: Chief's blog

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Well we're up and running - and what a fantastic opening ceremony.

We do love to be a bit cynical, us Brits, but it was impossible to fail to be anything other than proud and hugely impressed.

It showed our style, our culture, our sense of humour and our sense of occasion - and yes, I can recognise a political dimension but even that was a good thing.

Freedom of expression (within some boundaries of course) is a central plank of our values.

I also thought the Queen's part topped a perfect jubilee year for her which has altogether really embedded the importance and relevance of the monarchy for the next goodness knows how many years.

On a personal level it was a wee bit more poignant - my (late) brother was a mate of Danny Boyle's all through his time at school and in to sixth form (Thornleigh in Bolton) and indeed my mum worked alongside Danny's mum many many years ago in Radcliffe.

Our families have never kept in touch, so I am not pretending to be best friends or anything here (I haven't spoken to him since I was about 16)...

Continues,

Fire: Chief's blog

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I am a visitor to our Facebook site (which is growing in popularity) - but not a regular one. 

I did look this evening though and there are some great photos of Heywood Fire Station in Bloom. It looks great actually and some really hard work gone in to it.

Looking forward to spending the day on Bury Borough tomorrow and seeing the new station (we moved in last week).

Fire: Chief's blog

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Our crews are still at the scene of the incident that started this morning in Shaw.

We now know that a child has - tragically - perished at this incident.

Could I offer the sympathy and condolences of everyone in Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service to the family and loved ones affected.

You only have to look at the images in the media to realise that this is a scene of complete devastation.

Our crews have been doing a great job in difficult circumstances and continue to do so  - supported by the whole organisation; from the staff in our Control Centre to our Communications Team - dealing with enormous media interest.


Fire: Chief's blog

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Its been a relatively (and I mean relatively) quiet week.

We are just a couple of weeks away from local elections and many of our fire authority members are busy with their own campaigns or supporting their political colleagues with leafleting etc.

This period is known as purdah which describes a convention / protocol whereby we (the officers) try our best to give the politicians the time / space to organise their election. Equally, though, there is a block on politicians overtly using their office to get personal / political advantage.

The new duty system seems to be bedding-in okay - we will still see a few odd detachments, because we have many more people in the system than we need - so please bear with us for a while.

On the whole though, the feedback has been good.

We have also got some good news in relation to the bid for European funding for a future firefighting project and made it through the first phase. We haven't got the money yet and we have more phases - but obviously it's a step forward.

As an illustration of how...

Continues,

Fire: Chief's blog

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We have now officially closed the consultation period of our new corporate plan / operational strategy. Though if people still want to make comment we will not completely ignore them.

This has been the largest consultation exercise we have ever done and has involved a huge effort - and we have had a lot of feedback.

Although its probably a sign of the times that, unlike in the past, when changes to 'fire' would have evoked a huge emotional response from the public, we have really not seen that.

Rather people have been able to take a much more analytical perspective and ask searching and important questions to test the validity of our thinking and to assure themselves we are not just responding to financial situation in any knee-jerk way.

Of course there have been concerns expressed - not least by staff and their representatives - but here too, among the concerns, we have seen realism and constructive suggestions made.

For example in the Fire Brigade Union's response they are seeking a review of a number of our operational policies...

Continues,

Fire: Chief's blog

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A very busy and eventful week - to say the least.

Two days in London meeting officials and MPs to try to get a fairer funding distribution - and a meeting with Greater Manchester MPs today. (I did talk about in earlier blog).

There will be lots more lobbying so I won't say more here.

But we have also this week had the inquest in to the death of Daniel Holt - which lasted for three days. Each day of the inquest has been reported in the Manchester Evening News and, rather than say more here if anyone wants to understand more, their coverage has been fair and accurate.

This was the incident where we made a number of mistakes, that meant we failed to search the living room (where Daniel had collapsed behind the settee). In the event, the pathologist's evidence identified that Daniel had 'very likely' perished before we arrived and the Coroner therefore passed an accidental death verdict.

He also reinforced the dangers of chip pan fires which underlines the importance of our safety and prevention work.

And the fact that our actions...

Continues,

Fire: Chief's blog

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Yesterday I had the privilege of accompanying a number of colleagues to a reception at Number 10 - hosted by the Prime Minister - to acknowledge the work and endeavour of all the emergency services during the civil disorder last year.

It was a real honour and quite daunting actually for all of us to wander through No 10 - its a place that just oozes history and it was a real pleasure just to chat to colleagues - firefighters, control staff and volunteers - all of whom played their parts in supporting the disorder itself but then the work to return the community to normality as quick as possible.

Putting politics to one side - and I always try to avoid being political - there was a real sense of authenticity in the thanks and appreciation of the PM but also as they 'mingled' the Cabinet - many of whom also attended the reception. Additionally, other MPs were there ( Tony Lloyd from Manchester and Hazel Blears from Salford for example) so it really was cross party. I even managed to chat to Nick Clegg.

If you get chance to catch anyone who attended please do so - but I was really proud of them as ambassadors for all of us.

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