Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service is committed to working towards making Norfolk safer

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There's always plenty going on at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service. From our interactive Crucial Crew for youngsters to the Norfolk Show, from station open days to safety initiatives there is a great deal to discover behind the blue lights.

North Norfolk children to learn vital safety tips

Crucial Crew LogoAgencies from across the county will be coming together next week (20-22 October) for the next Crucial Crew event.

The North Norfolk Crucial Crew, taking place at Gresham’s Prep School in Holt, will see 567 children take part in theatre-style scenarios and mock up hazards in a safe environment.

Co-ordinated by Norfolk County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service, the event will use ten-minute interactive sessions to teach vital safety tips.

This is the 6th year a North Norfolk Crucial Crew has been held and is the fifth event in Norfolk in 2014.

Following next week’s event 38,728 young people (Year 6 pupils) will have attended Crucial Crew since it started.

Stuart Horth, Head of Community Safety at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Crucial Crew returns to North Norfolk for another year. These safety messages are protecting young people and their families. By providing them with these opportunities we are able to protect a large proportion of the Norfolk Community. This in turn can have a wider cost benefit by saving on expensive treatments which result from possible mistakes in their lives.

"Crucial Crew relies heavily on sponsorship which we appreciate and it helps us hold these sessions. Therefore, I would like to thank Shell UK as well as Gresham's School for allowing us to use the venue. Thanks needs to go to the Church of Jesus Christ Later Day Saints for help with filling 'Goody Bags', Leigh Bagshaw (Community Safety Advisor) for all of his hard work in arranging the North Norfolk event and finally other individuals for their help including Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service Volunteers.”

The Agencies taking part and the scenarios are:

1. Norfolk Constabulary – Personal Safety
2. Norfolk County Council Resilience Team – Household Emergency Planning
3. PACT (Partnership Against Crime Taskforce) - Street Safety
4. National Grid – Gas Safety
5. St John Ambulance – First Aid
6. The Magdalen Project/Jigsaw Programme – Internet Safety
7. Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service – Fire Safety in the Home
8. U.K. PowerNetworks – Electrical Safety
9. H.M. Coastguard – Seaside Safety

The 23 schools attending are:

• Cromer Junior School
• Fakenham Primary School
• Corpustry Primary School
• Gresham Village School
• Tunstead Primary School
• Mundesley Junior School
• Holt Primary School
• Kelling Primary School
• Astley Primary School
• Millfield Primary School
• Northrepps Primary School
• Worstead Primary School
• Stalham Academy
• Langham Primary School
• Walshingham Primary School
• St. John’s Community Primary School
• Horning Community Primary School
• Aldborough Primary School
• North Walsham Junior School
• Cawston Primary School
• Wells Primary School
• Hindringham Primary School
• Blakeney Primary School

For more information please Contact us.

Norfolk firefighter to retire after 40 years of service

He’s been the Lord Mayor of Norwich, the Sheriff of Norwich as well as serving with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service for 40 years. Tomorrow (Tuesday 7 October) it will be Doug Underwood’s last day as he retires from the Service. 

Doug, who lives in Wymondham, was born in Orford in Suffolk and spent his childhood there. His father was a retained firefighter in the town for over 20 years. He was also a part-time Lighthouse Keeper at Orfordness lighthouse and received an MBE. 

In July 1974, Doug joined Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, although not as a result of his father working as a retained firefighter. Following his initial three months training he was posted to Great Yarmouth Fire Station. Doug served in Great Yarmouth until transferring to Sprowston Fire Station in January 1979. This resulted in a further six year’s service before moving to Norwich’s Central Fire Station at Bethel Street as a Fire Prevention Officer (Leading Fireman) in February 1985. After 18 months he returned to Sprowston until 2000 when he then went back to the Bethel Street station as a Sub Officer in the Community Safety Department. 

Doug retired from Operational Service in August 2002 but remained working for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service in Community Safety. After this Doug took over as the Team Manager, based in Norwich until moving to the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service Headquarters in Hethersett in 2008. 

Doug may be best known for coordinating the Crucial Crew safety events for Norfolk. Over the 11 years Crucial Crew has been operating, more than 38,000 school children in the county have learnt valuable safety tips. 

Before Doug’s time with Norfolk’s Fire and Rescue Service, he served in the Air Force Department Fire Service serving at RAF Orfordness in Suffolk and RAF Neatishead in Norfolk from September 1971 until June 1974. 

Other career highlights include: 

• Sheriff of Norwich between 1995 and 1996 
• Lord Mayor of Norwich between 1999 and 2000 
• Norwich City Councillor for twelve years between 1990 and 2002. He is proud to still have the biggest and second biggest majorities for his elections in that time. 
• Wymondham Town Councillor between 2002 and 2006 

Doug, 62, commented on his retirement by saying: “I’m sad to be going. Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service is an organisation where you make lots of friends. It’s also given me a fantastic career and provided an opportunity to meet lots of people within the Service, within partner agencies, and members of public. It’s quite a wrench to be leaving when you’ve built up those relationships with people. 

“In my career I’ve witnessed a huge change in many areas of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service such as the advance in equipment at its disposal. For example, when I was first posted in Great Yarmouth we used the old green goddesses, fire engines built in the 1950s, to attend road traffic collisions. 

“I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve had a career which has been very interesting and very busy as an operational firefighter. I’ve also been able to have a couple of years in fire safety, away from operational duties and moving into prevention. 

“The last 14 years I’ve been able to develop and mould community safety and during this time have helped to reduce domestic house fires and therefore injuries and deaths related to domestic house fires. Fairly early on in my career I remember going to three deaths in the space of a month in Norwich. Now, the average number of deaths related to domestic house fires is five a year. 

“Having the opportunity to be the Lord Mayor of Norwich in the millennium year was a real highlight of my career. It was only made possible by the Chief Officer at the time Bryan Smith. I was very proud to represent Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service in this way.” 

Doug is currently the Chairman of the Norfolk and Norwich Novi Sad Association. He also has a season ticket at Norwich City Football Club. Doug is married to Sandra and he has two children, three step children and eight grandchildren. 

Chief Fire Officer Nigel Williams said: “Doug has been a huge asset to the Fire and Rescue Service in a career spanning four decades. He is a valued colleague and during his time with the Service has undertaken some outstanding work within community safety in particular, making great strides in taking it forward. 

“Doug will be very much missed as a colleague and also as a friend to many people within the Service. I would like to thank him for his hard work and dedication over the past 40 years. On behalf of everyone at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, I wish him the very best in his retirement.” 

Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Communities Committee, Cllr Paul Smyth, said: "I would like to thank Doug for his exceptional service to the people of Norfolk.  Spanning four decades, his tremendous commitment and proven versatility are a credit to him and the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service.  In particular, we should recognise that his sterling work coordinating the Crucial Crew events has benefitted a generation of Norfolk's children.  I am sure his knowledge and experience will be sorely missed and I wish him well in his retirement."

More than 1,000 Norwich school children to boost their safety knowledge at Crucial Crew event



Crucial Crew LogoHundreds of children from Norwich schools will be taking part in the 45th Crucial Crew event next week (15-19 September).    

The multi-agency safety event at the Norfolk Showground involves theatre-style, interactive scenarios, mocking up hazards in a safe environment which children might be exposed to in everyday life.

Co-ordinated by Norfolk County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service, Crucial Crew uses ten-minute interactive sessions to teach vital safety tips.

It is the 11th year a Norwich Crucial Crew has been held and the fourth Crucial Crew in Norfolk so far this year. After next week’s event, 38,161 Year 6 pupils will have attended an event since it started in 2003.

Over the course of the four days, the 10 and 11 year olds will be placed in situations which simulate potential danger, such as a bedroom fire. The experiences seek, within a controlled environment, to raise awareness and provide practical and memorable advice on what to do.

Doug Underwood from Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service and Crucial Crew Co-ordinator said: “We want to continue to offer young people these important safety messages as these are shared with families and friends and remembered for life.

“This will be my last event as co-ordinator and I have seen 38,000 young people who have now benefitted since 2003. I know how important these events are but they rely on continued sponsorship, which is very much appreciated, and would urge our sponsors to keep helping us with this. The main sponsors of next week’s event are the Fitzmaurice Trust and Dow Chemicals for the bags and certificates.

“I would like to thank Gosia Zielinska (Community Volunteer Co-ordinator) and Fay Richardson (Community Safety Advisor) for all of their hard work in arranging the Norwich event. Thanks also go to the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association for the venue and to Wymondham Rotary Club, Watton Rotary Club, Dereham Rotary Club and Diss Rotary Club for their continued support and help. Thanks to the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service Community Volunteers for help with filling ‘Goody Bags’. I would also like to thank Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service Wymondham Cadets for their help and support.”

Cllr Paul Smyth, Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Communities Committee, said: “Crucial Crew continues to be a popular initiative amongst Norfolk’s schools and it is great that so many young people have benefitted from it over the years.

“Safety education is an important element of our prevention effort and the Crucial Crew events deliver safety messages in a fun and interactive way that hopefully children will remember and share with their families.

“I would like to thank the sponsors for their vital support and also Doug Underwood for his sterling work in organising these events for over a decade."

Firefighters band, The Backdrafts performing in New York

The Backdrafts in front of a fire engineFirefighters’ band The Backdrafts will be performing in New York later this month, as part of a series of events in commemoration of the 9/11 disaster.

The Backdrafts all work for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service and have been closely involved with the UK’s Tunnel to Towers charity.

That charity is an offshoot of the Tunnel to Towers Stephen Siller Foundation – a charity set up to commemorate Stephen Siller, a New York firefighter killed in the Twin Towers attack.

The band have written their own track Chose to Run, in memory of Stephen, and have now been asked to perform the song at a series of events in the United States.

The band will be funding the trip themselves and will begin by performing at the Elevated Acre, in Manhattan, as part of the Annual Appreciation Dinner on 27 September.

Then, on Sunday, 28 September they will be running in the annual Tunnel to Towers run, before hopefully performing at the events after-party.

The Backdrafts will then travel to Washington where they have been asked to perform at the Walter Reed Military Hospital for injured troops. Following this, they’ve also been asked to gig at troops’ hangout the Harp and Fiddle.

The trip will also see band member Higgy (Andrew Heginbotham, Group Manager for NFRS) and Becky Blount (Watch Manager Control Room) tie the knot in the Big Apple. 

After hearing of their plans to get married, the New York Fire Department and Stephen James from the UK Tunnel to Towers Charity have arranged for Becky and Higgy to get married at the Statue of Liberty.

We wish The Backdrafts and the newlyweds the very best of luck.


At least 750 homes in Norwich escaped deadly gas incidents in the last year

At least 750 homes in Norwich escaped deadly gas incidents in the last year    Gas Safety Week Logo

  • Norwich is the most at risk area in the East of England with one in three homes found to have an unsafe gas appliance 
  • To mark Gas Safety Week (15-21 September) Gas Safe Register, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service and local registered engineers will be in Chapelfield shopping centre on Thursday 18 September to advise the public on how to stay gas safe

To mark the start of Gas Safety Week, new research released today has revealed at least 750 homes in Norwich have escaped deadly gas incidents, such as explosions, fires and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, in the last year. 1

The research carried out among Gas Safe registered engineers revealed that over half (57 per cent) found a dangerous gas boiler, cooker or fire in a customer’s home in the last year that needed turning off immediately. Around half (45 per cent) of these dangerous appliances were attributed to the fact that people had failed to get their gas appliance regularly serviced and had been left in a poor state. 2

Gas Safe Register has inspected 1,788 homes in Norwich in the past four years and found unsafe gas appliances lurking in one in three homes, making it the most at risk postcode in the East of England. Other dangerous locations in the region include: Ipswich (one in four homes unsafe) and Peterborough (one in six homes unsafe).3

In addition, National Grid found over 1,500 unsafe gas appliances at emergency callouts attended in just the last year across the region.4

1,326 registered engineers in Norwich are tirelessly working to keep the public safe and reduce the number of unsafe homes – many of which are caused by people failing to get their gas appliances safety checked by registered engineers.

Paul Walters, a Gas Safe registered engineer based in Dereham, said: “It’s scary to see everyday how many people are in danger and don’t even realise it. The number of times I'm called to put right poorly installed appliances or those installed by illegal fitters not complying with current legislation and regulations is shocking. When I start work on a gas appliance, I tell my customers that I’m Gas Safe registered to give them the confidence that I’m qualified to do the job and won’t be putting their lives at risk.”

Greg Preston, group manager for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Our fire fighters regularly deal with the consequences of badly fitted and poorly maintained gas appliances or illegal gas work. These situations are often fatal, so it’s an issue we take very seriously. We’re joining forces with Gas Safe Register to raise awareness of this important issue in the hope it will prevent tragedies happening.”

Gas Safe Register is touring the country this week, visiting the gas danger hot spots in each region – Sunderland, Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Norwich, Bristol and Portsmouth – to remind people of the importance of getting regular safety checks on all gas appliances.

Gas Safe Register, the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service and local engineers will be in Chapelfield shopping centre on Thursday 18th September from 8am to 4pm.

Russell Kramer, chief executive for Gas Safe Register, said: “Over the past three years there’s been 31 deaths and over 1,000 injuries that have resulted from gas related incidents.5   However, listening to our engineers tell us about the situations they face on a daily basis and hearing just how many life-threatening incidents they prevent, it’s surprising there haven’t been more. It shows what a great job registered engineer’s do, but at the same time the public also has an important role in gas safety. An engineer can only help keep you safe if they are invited into your home to check your gas appliances. It’s therefore your responsibility to make sure you stay safe by regularly getting your appliances safety checked by a registered engineer.”

Last year, Gas Safe Register launched the first ever interactive gas map - - which tells people how safe or unsafe their area is when it comes to gas by simply entering their post code. People can also sign up to a free gas safety check reminder service which will alert them when their gas appliances need checking.

Russell continued: “We want to make it easy for people to stay gas safe. Over 150,000 people used the gas map in the last year, and many signed up to the reminder service6. We hope to see thousands more use these tools during and beyond Gas Safety Week this year to reduce the number of dangerous gas appliances that are lurking in homes and live in a safer Britain.”

Follow Gas Safe Register’s advice this Gas Safety Week:

1. Get your gas appliances safety checked every year by a Gas Safe registered engineer. You can sign up to a reminder service and find out about the gas dangers in your area by visiting
2. Check the front and back of your engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card, making sure they are qualified to do the specific type of gas work you require.
3. Check gas appliances for warning signs that they are not working correctly. A lazy yellow flame, black marks or stains around the appliance, or too much condensation in the room are all signs that your appliances aren’t safe.
4. Know the six main symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse and loss of consciousness.

To find a Gas Safe registered engineer and for further gas safety advice visit or call 0800 408 5500.


• To mark Gas Safety Week, Gas Safe Register, local registered engineers and the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service will be in Chapelfield shopping centre on Thursday 18th September from 8am to 4pm.

1 Gas Safe Register surveyed 1,658 registered engineers in June 2014. Amongst surveyed gas engineers, 57 per cent said they had switched off a deadly appliance in the last year. If the same proportion of 1,326 gas engineers in Norwich had switched off a deadly appliance in the last year, this would equate to at least 750 homes avoiding a deadly gas incident.

2 45 per cent of engineers surveyed said the reason they had to turn off a gas appliance in the past 12 months was because the appliance had been poorly maintained.

3 Gas Safe Register has inspected 14,683 homes in the East of England for the period 1 April 2010 – 1 May 2014:
- 1,788 of these homes are in Norwich, 29 per cent (one in three) were unsafe
- 964 of these homes are in Ipswich, 28 per cent (one in four) were unsafe
- 2,964 of these homes are in Peterborough, 16 per cent (one in six) were unsafe

4 In the last year, the Gas Distribution Network for the East of England, National Grid, found 1,510 unsafe gas appliances (cookers, boilers and fires) following emergency callouts.

5 Health and Safety Executive gas statistics from 2010/11, 2011/12 and 2012/13 for Great Britain  #gas

6 There were 152,709 visits to from September 2013 – July 2014.


Gas Safe Register is the registration body appointed by the Health and Safety Executive to manage the gas safety register in Great Britain - it also operates in Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and Guernsey. It is a legal requirement for anyone carrying out domestic and commercial gas work to be registered, and comply with the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998 and relevant legislation in the other territories. The register of more than 122,000 gas engineers held by Gas Safe Register aims to protect people from unsafe gas work. Gas Safe Register assesses the competence of engineers by inspecting the gas work they have carried out to make sure they are safe to work on gas. Gas Safe Register is focused on gas safety and campaigns to raise awareness of gas safety risks associated with using illegal gas workers.

Gas Safe Register deals with all aspects of the downstream gas industry covered by the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. It covers both piped natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Gas Safe Register replaced the CORGI gas registration scheme in Great Britain 1 April 2009 and Northern Ireland on 1 April 2010.

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