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.

National FBU Strike Action - October 2014

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has announced that its members will be taking further strike action. This is to commence from 1800 on 31/10 and run continuously through until 4/11 at 1800.

The dispute is not between the FBU and Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, although services in the County are likely to be affected.

Fire and Rescue cover in the event of a strike

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service has a legal duty to provide the county of Norfolk with an emergency fire and rescue service and we have taken action to ensure the continuing provision of a reduced service during the strike.

Steps have been taken to provide a level of fire cover in Norfolk however this is likely to be reduced.

Levels of response

The level of response available from Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service during any period of industrial action does not affect the likelihood of a fire occurring in your home, a workplace or other premises. However, the vigilance and management of responsible persons can reduce the risk of fire.

Calling 999

The 999/112 system will continue to operate as normal.

During periods of strike action it is foreseeable that:

  • Fire Brigade attendance times to some incidents will increase
  • Only a contingency level of service will be available
  • Crews attending may not be familiar with premises or the local geography


Many people enjoy fireworks but we recommend that fireworks and bonfire celebrations are moved to after this period of industrial action.

When using fireworks it is important to follow the firework code and the following safety steps or better still go to an organised fireworks display;

  • Only buy fireworks marked BS 7114.
  • Only buy from a reputable retailer, not from car boot sales, markets or the side of the road.
  • Make sure that any selection boxes are sealed when you buy them
  • Check all fireworks are not damaged or damp.
  • Don't drink alcohol if setting off fireworks.
  • Keep fireworks in a closed box.
  • Follow the instructions on each firework carefully.
  • Light them at arm's length using a suitable taper.
  • Stand well back.
  • Never go back to a lit firework, it may go off in your face.
  • Never put fireworks in your pocket.
  • Never throw fireworks.
  • Always supervise children around fireworks.
  • Light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves.
  • Never give sparklers to children under five.
  • Keep pets indoors.

Site bonfires well away from houses, garages, sheds, fences, overhead cables, trees and shrubs and always away from oil tanks and other fuels.

If you are celebrating Halloween, please take care with candles inside pumpkins or using them for decoration as they have often caused fires, especially when placed near curtains or on flammable surfaces, better still use battery powered lights or candles

Fire Safety in Your Home

Whilst the risk from fire in your home remains unchanged, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service advises that during any period when an emergency response may be delayed, our communities should remain extra vigilant and follow all relevant fire safety advice.

We provide comprehensive guidance to support your safety in the event of fire; these can be found in the Your Safety section.

This guidance is designed to:

  • Help you prevent fire occurring in your home.
  • Tell you what to do if fire does break your in your home.

Key Messages from our fire safety guidance

  • Make sure you have working smoke alarms in your home.
  • Test your smoke alarms regularly.
  • Never leave lit candles or cooking unattended.
  • Put cigarettes out – right out.
  • Plan your escape route – and make sure all your family know it.
  • Make sure you don't overload electrical sockets and watch out for faulty electrical equipment.
  • Be sensible when using BBQs and lighting any fires outdoors – avoid bonfires.
  • Treat all flammable materials with care – both using and storing them.
  • If you plan to use fireworks please look at our guidance here.

Business response

Business will still have a duty to comply with fire safety legislation. The Service provides comprehensive guidance and support on how you should comply with your legal duties. These can be found in our Business Fire Safety Section.

In addition, we urge all businesses to consider the following Key Messages during periods of industrial action:

  • Review your fire risk assessment and make sure it is current.
  • Ask staff to be vigilant to the risk of fire and report any concerns.
  • Check your fire detection system is working effectively and ensure everyone in the building understands what they need to do should it activate.
  • Make sure fire fighting equipment works and everyone expected to use it knows how to do so safely.
  • Make sure fire evacuation plans are in place and employees know what to do.
  • Keep escape routes free from obstacles.Keep fire doors shut.
  • Reduce fire hazards - keep sources of ignition away from flammable materials or substances.
  • Avoid arson risks, such as rubbish left around.
  • Delay activities if they have an increased risk of fire associated with them (e.g. hot cutting or hot works).

TICK TOCK TEST your smoke alarm before it’s too late

TICK TOCK TEST your smoke alarm before it’s too late ...

Tick Tock Test - Bunny ImageWith the clock’s going back later this week, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service is urging people in the county to get their smoke alarms tested.

Smoke, the silent killer, is responsible for over half of all deaths in accidental fires in the home in the UK.

Last year over half the 213 fire deaths in the home were caused by smoke inhalation. Working smoke alarms can give people the wake-up call they need to escape – because smoke will not, it will leave you for dead.

In the majority of domestic fires across the country with fatalities, smoke alarms were either absent or did not go off – and a common cause was missing or flat batteries. That is why the Fire Kills campaign, run in partnership with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, is asking people to make an online pledge to test their smoke alarms when the clocks change (25-26 October). A simple push of the test button and you will test both the power supply and the detection mechanism.

In March 2014, nearly one in seven people tested their smoke alarms when they changed their clocks to British Summer Time. This autumn, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service wants even more people to help keep their loved ones safer from fire by testing their smoke alarms. Everyone can join in and pledge to Tick Tock Test.

Over half the people who died in fires in the home last year were 65 years old or over. So as well as testing their own alarms, Fire Kills is also urging householders to test for people who might need help testing theirs. The few seconds it takes to test could provide a few valuable minutes for loved ones to escape safely.

Stuart Horth, Head of Community Safety at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Smoke alarms are a proven life saving tool, but they are no use if they are not working. You are at least four times more likely to die in a fire if you don’t have a working smoke alarm, so taking the time to test the smoke alarms in your home could be a truly life saving decision.

“The clock change weekend can act as a great reminder to test your smoke alarms. So over the weekend of 25-26 October why not test yours when you change the clocks.”

Cllr Paul Smyth, Chairman of Norfolk County Council's Communities Committee, said: "The evidence is clear - smoke inhalation can be deadly, so I would urge people to fit smoke detectors, to regularly test them and to help those who may not be able to fit or test their own alarms.

"Linking a test to the October clock-change is a helpful prompt, so please use this week-end to take action that could genuinely save lives."

Pledgers will be able to sign up on the Fire Kills Facebook page or click on special Fire Kills ‘Tick Tock Test’ adverts when they see them online and on their mobile phones.


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."

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.

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.


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