In my role as a County Councillor I am also the Labour Shadow Spokesperson for Fire, Planning and Infrastructure, the Cabinet post held by Will Windsor-Clive. I am going to do a number of posts looking at each aspect of the portfolio and this first one is around the Fire & Rescue Service. I had the brief from the Chief Fire Officer, Jon Hall, and his team this week to explain our Fire Service and just what it does. I have to be honest, I didn’t properly realise just how few people delivered such an incredible and broad service and just how effective that service is.
I always, probably from early youth, had the impression that fire stations were manned with lots of people, and when you see images in the media at major fires, there are always lots of equipment, vehicles and, crucially, firefighters doing their job. It wasn’t really until I have had the full breakdown of what assets we have, and just what a wide range of capability we have, covering a wide geographic area, yet with relatively few people.
I didn’t know for example that a single watch of firefighters is only around 7 people. These can be Full Time and/or retained staff which again makes it rather interesting. It is the collaboration, teamwork and effective management of the staff, equipment and resources that enable the fire service to deliver such an effective and life preserving service.
I think the Fire Service is one of these things that we hope never to have to use, but are really grateful that it is there, just in case. The fact they spend so much time raising awareness, doing home safety checks and encouraging (as well as enforcing) commercial enterprises to do the right thing is time really well spent as it has shown to dramatically reduce the amount of incidents. Coupled with the education side of things at Skillzone, we really have a service that is proactive and effective.
I think it’s really easy to take for granted that we will always have such a great level of protection, but maybe we should be just looking and taking a bit more notice of the work that they do on our behalf and for us just to realise what an asset we have and just how effective those people are who put themselves in harm’s way for us.
I feel very fortunate to have the Gloucestershire Fire Service as part of my Portfolio. There is not much to complain about as its one of the best performing services in the Country, but the ability to learn and highlight the great work they do is a real privilege.