ALSAR appoints new Chair and Vice Chair

cropped-nesph-newswire.jpg The Association of Lowland Search and Rescue (ALSAR), which represents the UK’s Lowland Rescue teams, has announced the election of Kris Manning as Chairman, and Adrian Edwards as Vice Chairman.

Kris Manning has been a member of Berkshire Lowland Search and Rescue for 28 years and was author of the original Lowland Search Techniques course, which was used as the basis for Lowland Rescue search standards from 1995.

Kris said, “ALSAR is nearly 20 years old and in that time we have gone from an organisation of three teams to 33 teams. Over 1500 personnel are now providing over 200,000 hours of specialist volunteering annually under the Lowland Rescue banner and the time is right for ALSAR to take the next step and develop our fundraising and overall awareness of Lowland Rescue.”

Thanking the outgoing Chairman, Adrian Edwards, for his leadership over the last few years, Kris stressed that the two would continue to work as a close team alongside the board of Trustees and Officers, but that the new roles would better reflect the division of strategic and national work that the pair would be tackling.

The election sees a return to the Chair for Kris Manning, who held the position in the early years of ALSAR’s national work, but stepped down to concentrate on national training and delivery standards, including the Lowland Rescue Search Planning course launched in 2013.

Upcoming Event: The Blue & Amber Light Fleet Exhibition

cropped-nesph-newswire.jpg The Blue & Amber Light Fleet Exhibition and The National Association of Police Fleet Managers’ Conference is now in its 41st year. The event is recognised as the oldest and one of the largest emergency service fleet events in Europe.

The unique exhibition focuses on transport for Ambulance, Fire & Rescue & Police but also attracts exhibitors and visitors from the other emergency services, local authorities and some government departments. On display will be a comprehensive range of vehicles, equipment and services for the benefit of this specialised area of the public sector.

The event takes place on the 3rd & 4th of June 2014 at The International Centre, Telford.

For more information on this event visit: www.napfmevent.org.uk

CFOA response to DCLG research paper ‘Fire and Rescue procurement aggregation and collaboration’

cropped-nesph-newswire.jpg Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRAs) have been developing their expertise in procurement over the last few years and there are more and more examples of collaboration and best practice. Such examples include a collective of twelve authorities who have purchased Personal Protective Equipment together making an average of 25% savings for each Service, and a project for purchasing Workwear which brought authorities across the country together to save money. That said, the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) recognises that real improvements can be made in this area, and has been working to support fire authorities to raise procurement standards and use collaborative contracts when there is a clear business case to do so.

Whilst we could argue about the quantum of potential savings to be made, CFOA welcomes the additional evidence provided by the ‘Fire and rescue procurement aggregation and collaboration’ report which will be used to inform its work to deliver a new Fire and Rescue procurement strategy.

Ann Millington, Corporate Services and Sector Improvement Director, CFOA said: “We recognise the significant opportunities here for FRAs to make substantial savings, and feed this back into continuing to deliver a world-class, best value for money service to communities. This is why we at CFOA want to drive progress on this across the sector, and we will be releasing a strategy to do this shortly.”

Metropolitan Police Officers Trial Body Worn Cameras

cropped-nesph-newswire.jpg Metropolitan Police officers have begun a trial of body worn cameras as part of plans to boost public confidence in the force and speed up convictions.

The cameras which are already used by police outside London allow footage to be used as evidence as well as supporting or disproving complaints against officers.

Five hundred cameras will be deployed across Barnet, Bexley, Bromley, Brent, Camden, Croydon, Ealing, Havering, Hillingdon and Lewisham as part of the trial.

Officers will use the cameras when responding to domestic violence and public order incidents as well as during “potentially contentious interactions such as the use of stop and search.” In a separate trial, firearms officers will test the cameras in their training environment ahead of a later operational deployment.

A red light on the camera will tell members of the public when it’s recording. Images will be uploaded to the Met’s servers at the end of each shift and deleted after 31 days unless required for evidential purposes.

Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said the cameras would help the police fight crime whilst also making the force “more accountable”.

He added: “Video captures events in a way that can’t be represented on paper in the same detail and it has been shown the mere presence of this type of video can often defuse potentially violent situations without the need for force to be used. “I believe it will also show our officers at their best, dealing with difficult and dangerous situations every day but it will also provide clearer evidence when its been alleged that we got things wrong. That has to be in both our own and the public’s interest.”

Roger Evans, a Conservative member of the London Assembly, said the trial “doesnt go far enough”. Mr Evans has been a long-time supporter of body-worn cameras and says the Met should be piloting them “in all parts of London where confidence in the police is low”.

He added: “The kit would provide vital evidence and help remove doubts in difficult cases such as the Mark Duggan shooting. The short term cost will be more than offset by the reduction in complaints and improved confidence.”

Simulated plane crash tackled in London emergency service exercise

cropped-nesph-newswire.jpg Emergency Services were called on to deal with a “devastating passenger jet plane crash” in London earlier this week, as part of a pre-planned training exercise.

More than 220 blue light service personnel took part in the enacted disaster training at a “crash site” set up in a building by the Thames in east London to test emergency response procedures. A real fuselage from a Boeing 737 aircraft was partially covered using 400 tonnes of rubble and real flame and smoke were used. Firefighters trained in water rescue searched the river for “survivors”, with actors from Amputees in Action, an agency which provides amputee actors, playing the part of casualties.

The excercise was hosted by London Fire Brigade.

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: “Whilst this scenario may appear worrying for some, I would like to reassure the public that these sort of exercises are vital to ensure that rescue teams are fully prepared should something like this ever happen in London.”

“It is only through this kind of exercise that we can fully test our plans and ensure that all the agencies which would be involved can respond effectively together, in a co-ordinated manner.”

“Air traffic incidents are extremely rare, but it is my responsibility to ensure that our fire and rescue teams, working with the other emergency services, are ready in the unlikely circumstance that something catastrophic were to occur with a plane in the capital.”

Jason Killens, London Ambulance Service director of operations, said the exercise provided a “valuable learning opportunity” for staff and tested their ability to cope with a real life major incident.

“Although this type of incident is extremely rare, it is important that we work together and plan now so we can continue to be well prepared for every possibility,” he said.

Commander Peter Terry, head of emergency preparedness for the Met, said: “Major incident exercises like this one provide us with the perfect opportunity to practice and test our response with our partners in a realistic fast moving environment.”

“They also allow us to examine what worked well and what difficulties we faced so we can take that learning and use it to improve our response and co-ordination when dealing with real live incidents in the future.”

Specialist Urban Search and Rescue teams from London and across the country worked together with members of the Metropolitan Police and the London Ambulance Service.Crash debris and working black box simulators were placed in the water for the Met Police dive team to recover.

London Fire Brigade said the exercise has been planned for over a year with Emergency personnel taking part in the drill being kept in the dark about what they would be coming up against.

US Navy Testing Robotic Fire-fighters

cropped-nesph-newswire.jpg Fire-fighting robots designed to withstand intense heat are to be tested by the US Navy this summer.

The Shipboard Autonomous Fire-fighting Robot (SAFFiR) has been built by engineers at Virginia Tech and other US universities. The robots are expected to perform a variety of tasks – balancing, turning valves, picking up and dragging a fire hose and jetting water on the fire. They also have a vision system to search for survivors.

“The human-sized autonomous robot is capable of finding and suppressing shipboard fires and working seamlessly with human fire-fighters,” says the Office of Naval Research’s website. Such a machine should be “able to withstand higher heat for longer periods than human fire-fighters,” it adds.

Two versions of the robot, made by researchers at Virginia Tech and the universities of California, Los Angeles and Pennsylvania, will be tested on board the decommissioned USS Shadwell. The ship is regularly set on fire to test new equipment. One robot will be about 5ft (1.5m) while the other will be slightly taller and more advanced.

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