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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.

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.


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.


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."

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