Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Safety Matters

GREATER Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) continues to fight a large-scale fire at a commercial unit on Oxford Street East in Ashton-under-Lyne, more than eight hours after first being called to the incident.

Three multi-storey buildings containing a number of small local businesses are involved in the fire, with 15 fire engines and approximately 70 firefighters engaged in extinguishing the flames from ground level and from above using jets.

Water drawn from the local supply has been supplemented from the nearby Ashton Canal while electricity to 50 local properties has been affected, with power unlikely to be restored before the morning.

The fire is contained to the three mill buildings on Oxford Street East. However, local residents on Gibson Terrace have been evacuated as a precaution and are being supported by Tameside Council to move to a place of safety.

Paul Etches, Area Manager for GMFRS, said: “Crews continue to work exceptionally hard to bring this major fire under control. Throughout the evening firefighters from 10 fire engines had been making steady progress, but at around 9pm a third building on the site caught fire and that necessitated us calling upon a further five crews from across Greater Manchester.

“Parts of all the buildings affected have collapsed and we continue to fight the fire in sectors, allowing us to focus on specific pockets of the blaze in a concerted effort to get the whole incident under control.

“As a precaution I’d encourage anyone living or working locally to keep your doors and windows closed. Please also keep the area free of traffic to allow emergency service vehicles quick and straightforward access to the scene.

“GMFRS will be here through the night, working to get on top of the situation and keeping local people safe and reassured. We will be here until this fire is out.”
Stockport Road, the A6017 between Guide Bridge railway station and St Peter’s Church, is closed to traffic and will likely remain so into the morning.

Public Health England further advise the local population that risks to health from the Ashton incident are low, however because any smoke is an irritant, it can make people’s eyes and throat sore.

People with asthma and other respiratory conditions may be particularly susceptible to the smoke and should carry and use their medication (such as inhalers) as usual.

August 1st is the day when blue light services from across Greater Manchester will come together to celebrate the annual emergency services open day.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) will be joined by other local emergency services including Greater Manchester Police (GMP), North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) and partners from further afield.

Running for the ninth year the event, which takes place at intu Trafford Centre on Thursday 1 August, hosts a huge display of emergency vehicles, vintage appliances, a hydraulic platform and much more.

Over 15,000 people are expected to come together and find out more about their local blue light services. Attendees will have the chance to watch fantastic demonstrations, including chip pan fires and road traffic collision rescues, plus the opportunity to learn vital life-saving skills such as CPR.

The Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester, who is set to open the event, Bev Hughes said: “This event is not only a fantastic day out, but an opportunity for the Greater Manchester public to get an insight into the day-to-day roles of our incredible emergency services and how they work collaboratively.

“I’d encourage everyone to ask lots of questions and learn some fundamental skills that can help others in times of crisis.”

The free event will commence at 10am, with the opening ceremony taking place at 11am, and will close at 4pm.

This year’s Safe4Summer partnership campaign has launched with the primary aim to keep the young people of Greater Manchester safe and provide information to their parents and carers so we can all work together to achieve this.

As part of the Safe4Summer campaign there is a chance to win an iPad – please enter the competition here: https://www.gmconsult.org/gmfrs/a6684bd2/. Please note this is for children aged 5 – 16 years old.

Share your photos from the event by using the hashtag #999Day on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

This coming Saturday (27th JULY 2019) Hyde Civic Square will come alive to the ‘sound of sirens’ when Hyde Town Team, in conjunction with Greater Manchester Police, Hyde Police Cadets, GMFRS, Blood Bikes Manchester, NHS North West Ambulance – First Responders, Be Well Tameside; health & Safety in the working environment training company, Mediskills and members of The Royal Navy Lifeboat Institution, will be demonstrating their skills and outlining their services, to shoppers and visitors at Hyde’s annual Blue Light Day.

The event which runs from 10am until 3:00pm is free to attend and is intended to give town centre shoppers, visitors and the local Hyde community the opportunity to meet men and women from the frontline teams and receive advice on various security and safety matters.

Following on from the huge success of last year’s event, Julia Harrison, Chair of Hyde Town Team, told how the team are really pleased to be hosting this; our town’s fourth ‘Blue Light Day’ which is designed to be a fun, yet a serious way for the communities of Hyde to meet face to face with members of our local emergency services.

Highlights of the day will include: various demonstrations from the emergency services. Staff from the police, NHS first responders, Fire & Rescue, Blood Bikes Manchester, and first aiders, part of the Mediskills nursing team, who will be carrying out demonstrations of CPR and defibrillator use, as well as free basic health surveillance tests. This year we have arranged for the RNLI to exhibit and there’ll also be an actual NHS ambulance for the kids to explore and even a few ‘paramedic outfits’ that they can dress up in to really become part of the day!

NHS personnel from ‘Be Well Tameside’ will also be on hand carrying out free blood pressure and cholesterol tests.

It is also hoped that Police dogs and the GMFRS Fire Service dog will also be there too!

GMP have arranged for a mobile Police Station, where Neighbourhood Watch & PCSO’s will be explaining the benefits of community involvement, whilst GMFRS will be demonstrating the impact of driving while under the influence drink or drugs in a specially adapted VW van. The simulation device within the van demonstrates in a safe way how driving under the influence of drink or drugs effects drivers. The simulator demonstration causes confusion, visual distortion, slowed reaction times and lack of coordination.

Training officers from Hyde’s Price’s Trust Team will be talking about their community involvement programmes as well as regular Firefighters who will be advising on domestic fire prevention schemes including the booking of free fire alarm installations.

There will be demonstrations throughout the day by NHS Ambulance Service –first responders and paramedics, who deal daily with critical live-saving situations and the Blood Bikes Manchester; a group of volunteer bikers who save lives by transporting essential medical items, including blood, plasma, platelets, biological samples, x-rays and medical notes between hospitals and healthcare institutions daily.

Officially opening the event will be Chief Superintendent Neil Evans; Territorial Commander for Oldham, Rochdale and Tameside along with Phil Nelson, Group Manager for Stockport & Tameside GMFRS, also in attendance will be The Worshipful the Civic Mayor of Tameside, Councillor Leigh Drennan and volunteers from the Town Team.

There will be face painting for the kids, a fun competition to win a Morrisons Family Hamper & the Town Team’s Grand Raffle will be drawn. And all this will be covered throughout the day by Tameside Radio’s Outside Broadcast team.

Chief Superintendent Evans said: “This promises to be a fantastic event and is a great opportunity for members of the public to meet their local emergency services and our partner agencies.

It gives us an opportunity to talk about safety with people from all areas of our local communities including children from the local schools, disabled, the elderly and members from all Hyde’s community groups. It’s also an ideal occasion where local issues can be shared and discussed with the emergency services in a relaxed environment”

Phil Nelson added, “The Blue Light Day in Hyde is a great opportunity for residents to see the important work all the emergency services do in and around the town. I’m really pleased to be joining them for what is set to be a fantastic event with lots of entertainment and a serious message about how the police, fire, ambulance and the other emergency services work in a genuine and close partnership to keep our communities, workers and visitors safe.”

Stalybridge & Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds said, “I am always proud to support this annual Town Team event with its message of helping people across our community integrate with members of the emergency services. And I’d like to thank the emergency services for being willing to support the event, for the fun aspects and obvious enjoyment that they’re putting into it, as well as the serious messages.”

GREATER Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) is urging people to stay safe near water with temperatures set to sore this weekend.

Temperatures could go above 30 degrees this weekend and while we want people to enjoy the hot weather, everyone is asked to do so safely and responsibly.

People are being urged to never swim in open water, as while it may seem like a tempting way to cool off, the drop in temperature can cause shock and increase breathing rate. Muscles will stiffen and fatigue will set in very quickly, making it impossible to swim to safety, even for the strongest of swimmers.

Unknown risks, such as rocks and broken bottles can also be hidden beneath the water and there is often no supervision by lifeguards to help if you if you do get in trouble.

GMFRS Area Manager Damian O’Rourke said: “When it comes to swimming in open water, our message is simple – don’t do it. We know that when it is hot it can be tempting, but is not worth the risk.

“Please go out and enjoy the sunny weather this weekend but don’t put your own or anyone else’s safety at risk. If someone does get into trouble, don’t try and rescue them yourself, but dial 999.”

To see our safety information and messages, which includes water safety, please visit: https://manchesterfire.gov.uk/staying-safe/safe4summer/

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 www.gov.uk/queens-award-for-voluntary-service.

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 http://qavs.direct.gov.uk. 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 www.gmconsult.org.

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.