Sunday, June 16, 2019
Safety Matters

The courageous Oldham Mountain Rescue Team has been honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

The stalwart team’s primary role is to help the injured or distressed in remote and difficult-to-access locations, however, their expert skills are often called upon to assist the local community when needed.

Severe weather events, such as snow or flood, and major incidents like last year’s devastating moorland fires are just some examples where the volunteers are on the front line.

Representatives of Oldham Mountain Rescue Team will receive the award from Warren J Smith Esq JP, Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, later this summer.

OMRT’s proud team leader, Rob Tortoishell, 39, who lives in Mossley, said: “I am delighted that the team’s work has been recognised with this prestigious award. It’s a recognition which needs to be extended to the local community, whose assistance is vital for us to be able to function.”

Representatives from OMRT attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May, along with other recipients of this year’s award.

The team’s longest serving member, Peter Hyde, 79, who went to the garden party, has served 54 years as a team member, team leader, treasurer, deputy leader, chairman, trustee and director.

He said: “I’m proud, pleased, honoured that the team is receiving this important award. I sincerely hope each member of the team, past and present, feels they are able to share in this accolade that puts a measure on what they have achieved over the last 55 years.

“The award is incredible and will surely be an important motivating spirit for all the team’s future activities. I have had the pleasure of seeing the team develop over the years and feel proud to be associated with a group of people and friends who consistently put themselves second when there is someone in need.”

Mick Nield, who led OMRT for 25 years and received an MBE last year, said: “This Queen’s Award is a fantastic news for the team and the whole community who give us such unstinting support.”

OMRT is one of 281 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious accolade this year. Winners are presented with a commemorative certificate signed by The Queen and a domed glass crystal.

The number of nominations and awards has increased year on year since the awards were introduced in 2002, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

Winners are announced each year on June 2 – the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.

OMRT is made up of more than 50 operational volunteer members, plus a further 15 support and back-up volunteer members.

Last year, OMRT spent approximately 3,700 man hours on front-line operations which did not include training or fundraising, all of which are done in members’ spare time. The team is wholly funded by donations from the community, individuals and businesses.

More information on the winners and the award can be found at

Any group of two or more people that has participated in voluntary work for more than three years can be nominated for the award. Full details on how to nominate are available at Nominations for the 2020 awards close on September 13, 2019.


An outstanding safety record has seen industrial gas company Air Products donating £7,226 to St Ann’s Hospice in the last three years.  

Each year the company’s employees around the country are set a target of operating a 100 per cent safety record.

The success of staff at the Walkden plant in achieving their goal means their chosen charity St Ann’s has benefitted.

The scheme is part of Air Products Charity & Safety Recognition programme, introduced in 2015, to be the safest industrial gases company.

Mark Hitchen, Air Products Plant Manager at Walkden, said: “It’s really important to Air Products that we support the communities where we operate. Knowing through this programme that local charities can benefit even further encourages our employees to act and consider every aspect of safe working.

“St Ann’s Hospice does such great work and thanks to our employees at our site in Walkden, we’re delighted to be able to help by making this donation.”


An appeal to keep one of the area’s most iconic visitor attractions safe and beautiful this summer has been issued.

Dovestones in the Peak District National Park in Greenfield, Saddleworth, has experienced devastating effects.

Now, with warmer weather, staff from the RSPB who manage the site, along with landowners United Utilities, and partners the Peak District National Park, Life for a Life Memorial Forests, and Greater Manchester Police and Greater Manchester Fire Service, have launched a joint appeal to those planning a visit.

Miriam Biran, RSPB Visitor Experience Manager at Dovestones, explained: “It’s great to see folk out enjoying nature and all the health and well-being benefits that brings, but this is a plea to all visitors to observe and respect some simple countryside rules which protect the area and the wildlife which calls it home, while also leaving the site clean and tidy for others to enjoy.”

The message from the partners is simple and applies to all visitors to Dovestones:

  • No lighting fires
  • No BBQs anywhere on site
  • Take all litter home
  • Dogs must be on leads from April – July (and in certain areas from March – August).
  • Park responsibly, take notice of double yellow lines and follow instructions from the Dovestone marshals.

Miriam added: “There are good reasons for these rules being in place, they are not there to stop people from having fun. Everyone will remember the heart-breaking fires of last summer and we have already seen a number of these occurring this year. This is why no fires or BBQs are allowed on-site. The risk of them getting out of control is simply too high.

“Litter also causes problems – it is both unsightly and a danger to wildlife and livestock, as well as being a fire hazard. Glass in particular, along with discarded cigarette butts is a real fire threat.”

Sadly, some fires have been started deliberately by arsonists, so the partnership urges visitors to call the fire service on 999 immediately if smoke or flames are spotted, as the faster they are under control, the less damage they do to the landscape, wildlife and livestock.

Wildlife and livestock are also at risk if dogs are not kept under control. Dovestones welcomes dogs and their careful owners, but there are some simple ways to ensure the site is treated with respect.

Dogs must be on a lead from April-July to protect sheep with lambs which are especially vulnerable to dog attacks – and happen too frequently.

There are also a variety of birds which nest on the ground so dogs should be on leads in certain areas during nesting season from March-August. Dog excrement should be cleaned up and placed in bins.

On sunny weekends and holidays there are marshals on site, funded by Oldham Council, the RSPB, United Utilities, Peak District National Park and Life for a Life Memorial Forests, to help spread and enforce these messages.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service have also recently trained up more volunteers to support with fire patrols around the Peak District National Park.

Miriam added: “If everyone sticks to these simple rules then Dovestones can remain a fantastic home to nature and a place for all to enjoy.”

Dovestone reservoir is owned by United Utilities and the water company works in partnership with the RSPB, who manage the estate.

The partnership aims to encourage public access and recreation, while protecting water quality and wildlife for future generations.



RESIDENTS can now have their say on plans to make Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service fit for the future.

The public consultation on the GMFRS Programme for Change Outline Business will run until May 31.

You can give your views on the plan at

The public are being consulted with on two specific areas, these are:

Our proposal to consolidate six fire stations into three brand new, state-of-the-art community fire stations in Bolton, Manchester and Stockport

Our proposal to manage our fleet of fire engines, whilst ensuring that we still have a response time that is faster than the national average

The Programme for Change is a major transformation project for GMFRS with the aim of ensuring the service has the right resources in the right places, is well-equipped, well-managed, and well-led.

By 2022 we need to make efficiency savings of £12.8million and these proposals will help us to meet this, whilst helping us to develop a service both for the future and fit to service the communities of Greater Manchester.

Chief Fire Officer Jim Wallace said: “The proposals we are consulting on are essential to ensure GMFRS is fit for the future and to serve the communities of Greater Manchester. As such, it is important those communities are involved in this process and get a chance to have their say.

“Our approach throughout this process has always been one of ‘listen, learn and change’ and this consultation is a vital part of that. I would urge anyone who has a view on what we are proposing to get involved through this consultation.”

As well as encouraging the public to have their say, we are also engaging with staff on the proposals.

The feedback gathered from the staff and public consultation will then be considered before the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, signs off any final plans for the future of the service for implementation.


MAKE sure you put any cigarettes completely out to stop the risk of fire is the message from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

Firefighters across Greater Manchester have attended 752 fires caused by carelessly discarded smoking materials since April 2014.

Crews in Manchester have been called to smoking related fires more than any other borough in the city-region, totalling 202 incidents in five years.

Bolton and Salford round out the top three with 84 and 78 incidents respectively.

The warning comes as GMFRS marks No Smoking Day (Wednesday 13 March).

The day aims to help smokers who want to quit.

In 2018/2019 firefighters have been called to 136 incidents caused by carelessly discarded smoking materials.

On Sunday 24 February, crews from Rochdale and Littleborough attended a first floor flat fire on New Road, Littleborough.

The occupier, who had been drinking, fell asleep while smoking in bed.

Firefighters used a hose reel to extinguish the fire, which involved a mattress and duvet.

Bev Hughes, Deputy Mayor of Policing, Crime, Justice and Fire, said: “Our firefighters do an incredible job keeping everyone across Greater Manchester safe, at all times of day and night throughout the year.

“We can also help them to do this by making sure any smoking materials are put out completely after use.”

Crews from Salford, Moss Side, Manchester Central and Blackley also attended a fire at a high-rise building in Manchester where a resident had carelessly discarded a cigarette on Monday 18 February.

The cigarette fell onto a balcony on the fourth floor and caused a small fire.

The fire only caused heat damage but if left unchecked potentially could have developed and spread around the building.

Paul Etches, GMFRS’ Head of Prevention, said: “Thanks to the quick work of our firefighters thankfully neither of these incidents developed into something much more serious.

“If you smoke, please make sure you put your smoking materials completely out. Putting a small amount of water on your ashes or cigarette butts is a quick and simple way to make sure you are not at risk of a fire.

“It is much safer to not smoke, but if you do, please follow our advice and make sure you have a working smoke alarm.”

If you smoke, GMFRS advises you to:

  • Stub your smoking material out properly – put it out, put it right out
  • Don’t leave a lit cigarette, cigar or pipe lying around. They can easily fall over and start a fire
  • Use a proper heavy wide-bottom ashtray, never a wastepaper basket
  • Make sure your ashtray won’t tip over and is made of material that won’t burn
  • Never smoke in bed
  • Fit a minimum of one smoke alarm on every floor of your home and make sure you test it often. A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999

Find more information about smoking safely by visiting the GMFRS website.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service has unveiled proposals that put firefighters at the heart of the work that we do and lay the foundation for a stronger organisation, focused on keeping communities safe and delivering a sustainable, affordable, frontline-first emergency service.

Like all fire services, Greater Manchester is continuing to have make savings because of Government cuts and pressures on council tax. The package put forward rises to this challenge but without compromising frontline safety or response times.

Since 2010, central government has cut funding to GMFRS by more than £20m, 17.5% of its total budget. The grant accounts for 55% of funding for the fire service, as compared to 64% in 2010. The rest of the funding comes from precept. These proposals will ensure that the service is on the right financial footing to be able to continue to serve the people of Greater Manchester.

Firefighters sit at the heart of these proposals. They will be supported by an organisation which has a culture of trust, respect and accountability, with improved working conditions, modern facilities and better training and equipment.

Proposals include:

  • A refocus on frontline delivery
  • Integration with place-based teams in every locality, targeting resources and meeting needs of communities
  • Maximising fire cover across Greater Manchester within available resources
  • More devolved power to the frontline
  • Re-investing in local stations and improved facilities
  • Investment in fire engines and equipment
  • Improved training and development
  • Investment in supporting technology and systems

The ‘root and branch’ review of the service was announced last year following the publication of the Kerslake Report and also in response to concerns raised with the Mayor by firefighters.

As part of the process, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor have visited every fire station and team to get the views of staff about the organisation. The proposals announced today respond to that feedback.

A key part of the work has been the Fire Cover Review, which has seen a range of options analysed to optimise fire cover in Greater Manchester.

This includes the following proposals:

  1. Mergers of 6 fire stations into three, establishing new state-of-the art fire stations with opportunities for collaboration with blue light partners and for facilities for the communities.  Initial consideration is being given to mergers at Bolton, Manchester and Stockport – the detail will be examined during the consultation.
  2. Crewing levels of 4 firefighters on all engines, reflecting current practice in Greater Manchester and services across the country.
  3. Removal of 8 second fire engines from stations currently with two engines.
  4. Maintenance of our position as one of the fastest responding fire services nationally, our average response times will still be more than a minute better than the national average.
  5. A new delivery model for Prevention, Protection, Youth Engagement and Administration.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, who is also Greater Manchester’s Fire Commissioner said: “Despite the continued austerity we are doing everything we can in Greater Manchester to maintain the level of service that our fire service provides. As a result of these changes GMFRS will still be able to boast some of the fastest response times in the country.

“We are not doing this by making unfair demands of our firefighters. The frontline remains our focus. I have asked the new fire chief to adopt a frontline first ethos throughout the organisation and make sure our firefighters have the right training, modern equipment and facilities.”

Deputy Mayor, Baroness Beverley Hughes said; “These proposals, by reverting to the core business of rescue, prevention and protection will enable our firefighters to make an even better contribution to the safety, security and wellbeing of people in communities across Greater Manchester.

“I am grateful for the spirit in which staff from right across the organisation have been willing to engage with us and tell us what they think. Their views are at the heart of these plans and whilst the transformation will be challenging it is essential to put GMFRS on a better and sustainable footing to deliver services.”

Chief Fire Officer, Jim Wallace said: “These proposals outline some of the most progressive changes in the history of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service but they are important ones to make sure we are a service fit for the future.

“This will put us in a position where we can continue to keep people safe, but also ensure that we are a sustainable, efficient service. There will be tough decisions to make going forward but all of this will be informed by staff feedback and with the use of a robust evidence base.

“We want to use place-based working to make a real difference in preventing fires and other emergencies but also to work with partners to allow them to focus on those who require specialist assistance.

“By working with our partners we can make sure we are doing the best we can to keep the people of Greater Manchester safe.”

No final decisions have yet been made on these proposals as we are consulting with staff and trade union representatives. We will also be launching a public consultation around the plans and details will be released in due course.

You can read the full Outline Business Case here.

FIREFIGHTERS across Greater Manchester are urging people to never leave their cooking unattended to minimise the risk of fire.

The call from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service comes following an incident in Altrincham caused by unattended cooking.

Three crews from Altrincham, Sale and Stretford were called to a semi-detached house on Barlow Road, Altrincham, at 6.16pm on Wednesday, March 6.

On arrival firefighters rescued the female occupier and dealt with the food smoking in the oven.

Paul Etches, Head of Prevention at GMFRS, said: “Thanks to a working smoke alarm this incident saw no injuries and thankfully did not develop into something much worse.

“It only takes seconds for a fire to start so the importance of a working smoke alarm cannot be overstated.

“Never leave your cooking unattended as the consequences may be severe.

“Make sure you test your smoke alarm. It may save your life.”

A specialist trauma technician assessed the lady who suffered no injuries.

Firefighters were on the scene for approximately 30 minutes.


If your pan catches fire when cooking:

  • Don’t panic and don’t take risks
  • Don’t move the pan
  • If it’s safe to do so, turn off the heat – but never lean over the pan to do so
  • Leave the kitchen, close the door behind you, get everyone out and don’t go back inside
  • Call 999

For more information on cooking safety visit the safety section of the GMFRS website:

FIREFIGHTERS are calling on people to keep an eye on their cooking and make sure their smoke alarms are working following two kitchen fires.

Crews from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service were called to the fires in Manchester and Salford on Thursday night.

In Manchester, firefighters from Gorton and Philips Park attended an incident at 8.51pm at a terraced house on Parkin Street where the occupier had fallen asleep after putting a pan on the stove.

Due to a working smoke alarm the man woke up and called 999.

The fire was out on arrival but the man was treated for the effects of smoke inhalation by ambulance crews while firefighters ventilated his house.

In Salford, two crews from Salford were called to an incident at 11.30pm in a terraced house on Kerrera Drive where the occupier had left a grill pan unattended.

The occupier was alerted to the fire by their working smoke alarm.

A specialist trauma technician gave the occupier first aid and advice on cooking safety.

Firefighters were on scene for approximately 30 minutes and made sure the fire was out using a thermal imaging camera.

Paul Etches, Head of Prevention at GMFRS, said: “These incidents highlight how important it is to keep an eye on your cooking at all times and to make sure your smoke alarm works.

“It only takes a second for a fire to start and if left unattended the consequences could be severe.

“Never leave your cooking unattended and make sure you have a working smoke alarm on each level of your home.”

If your pan catches fire when cooking:

  • Don’t panic and don’t take risks
  • Don’t move the pan
  • If it’s safe to do so, turn off the heat – but never lean over the pan to do so
  • Leave the kitchen, close the door behind you, get everyone out and don’t go back inside
  • Call 999

For more information on cooking safety visit the GMFRS website

THIS February Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) is urging members of the public to stay safe in the kitchen in support of a national cooking campaign, headed up by the National Fire Chiefs Council.

On Friday, February 1, 2019, firefighters who work at Heywood Community Fire Station were joined by chef Adam Reid, of The French restaurant in Manchester, and ITV Presenter Vicky Grimes to cook up a healthy tea – which was Adam’s take on chicken chow mein.

Firefighters took the opportunity to remind people how to stay safe when cooking and avoid fires at home on ITV’s Friday Night Fake-Away show, part of Granada Reports, which aims to help keep people healthy by cooking instead of eating take-away food.

Head of Prevention, Paul Etches said: “Every year GMFRS receives calls to around 1,300 kitchen fires. Since April 2018 our firefighters have already dealt with more than 1,000 kitchen fires – 85 per cent of these were cooking related which equates to around 890.

“Many cooking fires start when people get distracted – whether this be general distractions around the home, or falling asleep – sometimes after taking medication or drinking alcohol.

“We want to remind people to take extra care to avoid having a fire and also of the importance of having working smoke alarms and an escape plan – which can buy you valuable time should you have a fire at home.

“Often the damage caused by kitchen fires is so severe that it results in people requiring seeking alternative accommodation.”

To help prevent the increase of kitchen fires GMFRS is encouraging people to follow its safety advice and book a FREE Safe and Well Visit, which may include the fitting of smoke alarms, by calling 0800 555 815.

Safety tips to follow to keep you and your family safe at home:


·         Never cook after drinking

·         Always stand by your pan – don’t leave your cooking unattended

·         Keep your oven, hob and grill clean – fat and grease can easily catch fire

·         Don’t put metal objects, like tin cans, in the microwave

·         Keep toasters clean and away from curtains and kitchen rolls

If your kitchen does catch fire:

  • Don’t panic and don’t take risks
  • If it’s safe to do so, turn off the heat but don’t lean over the pan
  • Never use water or a water extinguisher on a hot fat fire
  • Leave the kitchen, close the door, tell everyone else to get out and don’t go back in
  • Call 999

THE MAYOR of Greater Manchester has welcomed official figures showing the total number of people sleeping rough has fallen substantially for the first time in eight years in the city-region.

Andy Burnham, who has pledged to end the need for rough sleeping by 2020, said: “Tackling rough sleeping in Greater Manchester remains a huge challenge – our approach can always improve but I am confident that for the first time in a long time real progress is being made. We are helping people turn their lives around and in many cases saving them.”

Official government figures published today (Thursday 31 January) show that on the night of the national rough sleeper count last November all 10 Greater Manchester boroughs’ figures combined showed 241 people sleeping outdoors, a reduction of 37 over the last 12 months. In eight of the boroughs numbers have either stabilised or fallen.

Since the start of November the Mayor’s A Bed Every Night campaign has helped 1,236 people into safe, warm and supported accommodation. It is the basis of a commitment to provide a bed for every rough sleeper in Greater Manchester who wants and needs one every night of this winter regardless of weather or temperatures.

Andy said: “These figures from Government demonstrate that in Greater Manchester the tide is turning. This winter, through A Bed Every Night, we are the only city-region in the UK working to provide beds across all our boroughs to meet demand for accommodation and support. We think that since the official count the number of people on our streets has dropped still further.

“The fact that more than 200 people are still sleeping rough in our city-region in this day and age is completely unacceptable and there is still much work to do. This is a humanitarian crisis, not of our own making, and there is no easy solution.

“A Bed Every Night is both morally and economically the right thing to do. Research by Crisis shows someone sleeping rough costs the taxpayer £20,000 over the course of a year – someone being helped by our programmes costs roughly half that.

“We are leading the way on this issue in Greater Manchester – in contrast to many other cities’ and city-regions’ figures our numbers have declined over the past 12 months, the first time that has happened here since 2010. I call on Government to recognise the success of our strategy and adopt it as the nationwide approach to tackling rough sleeping.”

The national rough sleeper count takes place every year on one night in November, with local authorities up and down the country submitting data to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). Figures are independently verified and the MHCLG subsequently publishes nationwide data early the following year.

These figures give the best indication of the numbers of rough sleepers on our streets, but it is generally accepted that the actual number is likely to be higher. However, these figures provide solid evidence of a reduction, which is backed up by what we are seeing on the streets.

For example, the latest figures, relating to the early morning of Friday 16 November, demonstrate that the number of people sleeping rough in Salford decreased, with 26 individuals counted compared to 49 the previous year. On the same night, roughly 40 people were inside A Bed Every Night accommodation in the borough as the scheme, which launched at the start of November, started to make an impact on the streets.

City Mayor of Salford, Paul Dennett, also leads on Housing, Planning and Homelessness for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA). He said: “We’ve been working hard to reduce rough sleeping in Salford but it would not be possible without the support provided through the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the numerous local charities, churches, volunteers, partner organisations and help from the people of Greater Manchester. You are seriously all invaluable.

“We’ve had approximately 40 people in A Bed Every Night accommodation and with other support this has reduced our annual rough sleeping figure from 49 to 26.

“Rough sleeping and homelessness is symptomatic of a failing system; shocking government cuts have decimated local authority services. Welfare reform, especially the roll-out of Universal Credit, the bedroom tax, benefits being frozen since 2015, sanctions and welfare conditionality have all contributed to the significant exacerbation of inequality and poverty across Greater Manchester.

“In addition to this the chronic under-supply of truly affordable housing (council housing) over the last two decades and lack of properties replaced that have been sold under Right to Buy has created a housing crisis, which has fuelled homelessness and rough sleeping across Britain.

“The latest national rough sleeper count figures for Greater Manchester show that we’re making some progress but there is still so much more to do to fix the broken system in 21st century Britain.”

In Manchester the number of people counted as sleeping rough in November increased to 123 individuals. Cllr Sue Murphy leads on homelessness for the City Council, and said: “There is a greater awareness and visibility of rough sleeping in Manchester so we are not surprised that the official figure has gone up since last year as this tallies with our own ongoing data which shows that more people are on the streets than ever before.

“The headcount figure is a snapshot on one night only. However, we know that the figure for rough sleeping rarely remains static and our own most recent figure in January tells us that 65 people were on the streets which shows that more people are taking up the offers of temporary accommodation and support available to them.

“This data provides us with regular, reliable and up-to-date information to enable us to plan and respond to that need accordingly.

“We know this is a challenging situation but are working tirelessly to address these complex issues which lead to people sleeping rough in the first place. We have outreach teams as well as those from partner organisations on the streets, offering accommodation, help and support, and we are striving to strengthen this support offer all the time to help people stay off the streets, rebuild their lives and reduce homelessness.”

A Bed Every Night, supported by local authorities and supplemented by generous donations from Greater Manchester’s businesses and members of the public, is the first step off the street for many of the city-region’s homeless and is currently funded to run to the end of March.

Operating alongside the scheme is the existing Social Impact Bond (SIB) which has thus far secured independent living spaces for 223 of the city-region’s previously most entrenched rough sleepers.

Next month Greater Manchester’s work to end rough sleeping will go even further with the launch of a ground-breaking Housing First pilot, backed by £7.6 million of Government funding. Its aim is to provide additional support to a further 400 people over the next three years by establishing accommodation for people facing multiple needs and exclusion, including homeless people.


Rough sleeping figures per borough, 2010-18:

  2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016


2017 2018 Change
Bolton 2 1 1 1 4 8 8 17 21 950%
Bury 3 9 3 10 0 9 3 10 3 0%
Manchester 7 15 27 24 43 70 78 94 123 1657%
Oldham 1 0 1 2 0 2 3 2 2 100%
Rochdale 5 5 8 6 17 2 12 8 3 -40%
Salford 4 11 10 7 14 16 26 49 26 550%
Stockport 1 0 4 3 7 9 10 10 7 500%
Tameside 9 7 0 2 7 14 19 43 36 300%
Trafford 3 1 2 2 2 1 2 5 3 0%
Wigan 6 11 15 13 7 3 28 30 17 183%
GM Total 41 60 71 70 101 134 189 268 241 487%