Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service Apprentices Blaze Ahead

Ten new apprentices at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service have been hard at work in their new roles.

The apprentices, 7 apprentice firefighters, 2 business administration apprentices and a motor vehicle apprentice are based at locations across the County.

The successful candidates were selected from the 50 applications received from 18-24 year olds nationwide and the apprenticeships are helping to shape the futures of these young people.

I saw the advert for the apprenticeships and applied immediately as I have always aspired to be a firefighter.

I don’t mind having to travel to Staffordshire, I’m based at Stafford Fire Station on Blue Watch and I’m a firefighter in development and undergo the same rigorous training as my colleagues.

My apprenticeship only allows me to work 30 hours a week so I join the watch for two days and one night shift as my usual working week. I highly value my job and I am hoping that by the end of my apprenticeship I will be successful in securing a position to remain in Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service. I would recommend the programme to anyone, as it is a great way to give individuals the opportunity to become a firefighter and the programme is worth its weight in gold.

The apprentices are following the Emergency Fire Service Operations Framework and gain the core firefighter qualifications of a BTEC Level 3 (Technical Certificate), NVQ Level 3 and Key Skills at Level 2. Once trained, they will have the opportunity to apply for available positions within Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service.

James Russell, 18 from Stafford was a successful applicant to work within Business Administration and is based at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Headquarters in Stone, within the Training and Development team.

The administration and correspondence of all of the training courses at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue goes through the office I’m based in and we are often inundated with emails and requests.

Despite such a large workload, I have a great time and really enjoy my work. This is mainly due to the people in and around the office and everyday being different, giving me the chance to meet new people. I’m very grateful to have been given this opportunity.

The apprentices are employed by The Apprenticeship Works who employ apprentices for various business and organisation across the West Midlands.

“We wanted to take advantage of the benefits apprenticeships bring to our organisation and are using this programme as a means of unlocking young talent within our local community.

“This will ensure we continue to have a workforce equipped with the skills which are required to be successful not only for today but also in the future.”
The apprenticeships programme is funded by the Government and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service are one of only a few Fire and Rescue Service’s to link in with a third party.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service Summer Safety Campaign

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has teamed up Sainsbury’s to launch their Summer Safety campaign.

Firefighters will be visiting Sainsbury’s stores across the County to promote summer fire safety to shoppers. Promotional safety flyers will also be displayed next to barbecue equipment in the stores.

Head of Risk Reduction, Ian Sloss said, ‘As the weather warms up, many people will hold barbecues and we need to ensure that we prevent as many incidents from occurring as possible. Of course it is not only barbecues which pose an outdoor fire risk, grass fires are also a problem over the summer months and last year firefighters attended over 40 grass fires every week throughout summer. We are hoping that by displaying the safety flyers in Sainsbury’s supermarkets we will be reaching our target audience and encouraging people to take extra care this summer.’

The flyers will be displayed throughout June, July and August and offer advice to anyone planning a barbecue, such as making sure the barbecue is well away from sheds, fences and other materials which could easily ignite and never leaving a barbecue unattended.

Neil Lennox, Group Head of Safety at Sainsbury’s said, ‘Staying safe when using barbecues over the summer months is very important and we want to help to ensure the safety of our customers in any way possible. Our stores are at the very heart of the community they serve and we want to make a positive difference to Staffordshire.’

Arsonist Targets Family Home In Lightwood

A 36-year-old man, from Stoke-on-Trent, has been arrested in connection with a house fire on Lightwood Road in Longton.

Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service were called to a house on Lightwood Road in Longton at around 4am this morning. A motorcycle next to the property was ablaze and the flames had spread to the entrance of the three-storey property, blocking the five occupant’s exit and trapping them inside in a bedroom.

Fire survival advice was given by Fire Control operators whilst firefighters erected a 13.5 metre ladder outside to rescue them. Neighbouring properties were also evacuated as a precautionary measure.

4 firefighters wearing breathing apparatus tackled the fire with hose reels, the fire which has left the porch, door and hallway severely damaged and other areas of the property smoke logged.

All five occupants, four adults and one teenager were rescued from the bedroom, firefighters also rescued three dogs and two tortoises from elsewhere in the property.

Four of the five occupants rescued were taken to University Hospital North Staffordshire for precautionary checks and were released this morning.

Firefighters and crime scene officers have returned to the property this morning to carry out an official investigation into the cause of the fire and concluded that the incident was deliberate ignition.

Detectives at Stoke-on-Trent CID have now launched an investigation into the incident.

The man remains in police custody.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact DS Phil Bryan at Stoke-on-Trent CID on 0300 123 44 55 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Firefighters tackle blaze at Newsted Trading Estate

 Around 70 firegfighters from across North Staffordshire we called to a blaze at what is believed to be the former and currently disused Kingscourt Food factory on Newsted Trading Estate this morning.  

Ten fire engines came from Longton, Newcastle, Hanley, Kidsgrove, Cheadle, Stone, Burslem, along with a number of specialist appliances from across the county. The emergency call was made at around 01:15 this morning. The incident involved a disused factory, approximately 70 metres by 100 metres that was well alight when crews arrived.

A high volume pump was used to pump water from the Trent & Mersey Canal to supplement the water being used to tackle the fire. Two aerial ladder platforms were used to tackle the fire from above.

Assistant Area Commander for Stoke-on-Trent, Ruth Watchorn-Rice, who is at the incident today said: “The fire was tackled externally, due to the severity of the blaze. We needed so many crews at the incident because there was a risk of the fire spreading to other operational factories that were in close proximity. The overnight crews did a great job though and prevented the fire from affecting the surrounding businesses. This morning a fire is still burning in part of the building and crews are expected to remain at the incident for the rest of the day. A fire investigation has started to establish the cause of the fire; however the investigation is likely to be prolonged due to the building being structurally unsafe at the moment.”

Hanley Fire started by a 4-year-old with a lighter!

By Matt Taylor

Detectives in Stoke-on-Trent investigating the serious fire at Internaçionale, a city centre fashion shop, on Friday afternoon have established the cause of the blaze.

Officers have reviewed CCTV footage and have spoken to a number of witnesses as part of the investigation. This confirms that the fire started accidentally when a four-year-old child with a cigarette lighter set fire to clothing on display in the store.

The scene on Friday

The scene on Friday

The CPS have been consulted and given the age of the child there will be no further criminal proceedings. The owners of the store are aware of these developments and they have been informed that officers have interviewed the parents of the child involved.

The results of the investigation will be discussed at a joint agency meeting involving the police, fire service and social services later this week.

Paul Lancaster, General Manager of The Potteries Shopping Centre added: “I understand that no further action will be taken by the police. However, parents must take responsibility for the action of their young children. Friday’s incident was very serious and could have resulted in a far worse outcome.”

Hero Fire-fighters to get award

By Mike Rawlins

Firefighters, Rob Barber, Dave Bennion and Tim Bullock

Firefighters, Rob Barber, Dave Bennion and Tim Bullock

Fire-fighters Rob Barber, Dave Bennion and Tim Bullock (pictured) will be presented with awards for bravery by the High Sheriff, Mrs Katie Evans and in the presence of His Honour Judge Tonking, at a special ceremony to be held at Stafford Crown Court next Wednesday.

The Fire-fighters are being awarded for their involvement at the infamous incident at the Hamilton Reed Building on Black Horse Lane in Stoke-on-Trent in July 2007 in which homeless Jessica Beech and Darren Asher, both 26, died.

In November last year Simon Pass, aged 14, and Shaun Winwood, aged 19,  went on trial and were found guilty of arson, being reckless as to whether life was endangered, and manslaughter.

Following the verdict the High Court Judge, the Honourable Mrs Justice Rafferty DBE, publicly commended the three fire-fighters for their bravery and courage and announced that they would receive the High Sheriff Award in due course. She said,

“The public ought to know the quality of three young men who were ready to do, and did, all they could to bring out Jessica Beech and Darren Asher alive. Â  Relatives sit here in court, grieving. One comfort will be knowing that you three did all in your power to save Darren and Jess. In the dark hours of their night, of which I fear there are many to come, that will help.”

“You are all three in my book ““ heroes.”

Dave Bennion and Tim Bullock were the fire-fighters inside the building searching for the unaccounted people. Dave Bennion commented: “We’re both honoured that the Judge has recognised our involvement at the incident, but at the end of the day we’ll always risk our lives to save lives – that is what we are trained to do.”

Rob Barber was the officer in charge of the incident at the time, who recognised the deteriorating conditions and made the decision to finally withdraw the crew he’d sent into the building. They got out of the building just seconds before it was completely engulfed with flames. He said: “As the officer in charge my priority was the safety of the fire-fighters I’d sent into the building. The conditions rapidly deteriorated and I realised that I had to get them out as quickly as possible. If they’d have been in there much longer I have no doubt that there would have been a different outcome.”

The High Sheriff’s Award is awarded in recognition of an order of a Crown Court from public funds to a person who showed great courage (or meritorious service). It is made under Section 28 of the Criminal Law Act 1826 and is signed by the awarding Judge.