Kent Fire and Rescue Service
|Kent Fire and Rescue Service|
|Facilities and equipment|
Kent Fire and Rescue Service is the statutory fire and rescue service for the administrative county of Kent and the unitary authority area of Medway, covering a geographical area south of London, to the coast and including major shipping routes via the Thames and Medway rivers. The total coastline covered is 225 km (140 mi); it has 55 fire stations, and 4 district fire safety offices. The FRS provides emergency cover to a population of nearly 2 million.
The first fire brigade appeared in Kent in 1802 when the Kent Fire Office formed an insurance brigade in Deptford (which was at the time part of Kent). In the same year, and completely separately from insurance companies, Hythe became the first town in Kent to set up its own fire brigade, followed by Ashford in 1826.
By the 20th century, it was quite fashionable for local authorities to have their own fire brigades. Maidstone had seen the formation of its borough fire brigade in 1901 when the Royal Insurance Company provided a new Shand Mason horse-drawn steam fire engine, named The Queen. This company had taken over the Kent Fire Office in the same year, simultaneously disbanding their own brigade. Things often became very competitive between individual town and village brigades, in many instances, each one trying to outdo its neighbour. In 1910, Bromley became the first town in Kent to house motorised fire engines, with two new Merryweather vehicles being stationed there.
Until 1938, the provision of a fire brigade was a discretionary power, and naturally there were a few local authorities that regarded it as an unnecessary expense. However, due to the threat of war, Parliament enacted the Fire Brigades Act 1938 and made it a duty and so created over 1,600 individual fire authorities across the nation. It was these local brigades and the Auxiliary Fire Service – also formed in 1938 – that valiantly coped with the consequences of the Battle of Britain and much of The Blitz. In August 1941, local brigades and the AFS were absorbed into one organisation called The National Fire Service. It was in 1941 that the current Headquarters house The Godlands was requisitioned for war-time use by the National Fire Service and it has remained with the fire service ever since.
World War II brought dark days indeed for Kent fire-fighters. Fire-fighting has been and will probably always be a dangerous occupation, and the Roll of Honour 1899-1990, compiled by Geoffrey Cooper, an ex-Kent fire-fighter, details the deaths of Kent fire-fighters while on duty. Of the 122 'Kent' names listed, 15 were pre-1939, 16 were post-1939 and 91 died during World War II. Nationally, well over 1,000 fire-fighters died during World War II, with stories of fire stations and the water supplies needed for fire-fighting being targeted by German bombers, to maximise the damage caused by incendiary bombs. The last death on duty of a Kent fire-fighter was in 1990.
The fire service was returned to local authority control on 1 April 1948 under the Fire Services Act 1947, with responsibility in England and Wales being given to the 146 counties and county boroughs of the day. The County of Kent and the City and County Borough of Canterbury combined to form Kent Fire Brigade, taking over 79 fire stations from the National Fire Service.
Subsequent local government reorganisations have had their effect upon the brigade, most significantly in 1965 when eight fire stations in the northwest of the county were transferred to the newly created Greater London area. Further reorganisation in 1974 saw Canterbury lose its county borough status and the fire brigade became the exclusive responsibility of Kent County Council. In 1998, the structure of local government changed again and Kent combined with the new Medway Towns unitary authority for fire brigade provision.
On 1 October 2003, Kent Fire Brigade was renamed Kent Fire and Rescue Service to better reflect the requirements demanded of it for many years. These changes were reflected nationally by the enactment of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 which came into effect on 1 October 2004.
In the spring of 2011, Kent Fire and Rescue underwent changes to its structure, these included restructuring from three divisions to 5 area groups: North Kent, East Kent, West Kent, South Kent and Mid Kent. Each group consists of a number of clusters, which are made up of a number of certain stations where resources are locally managed. The Letter prefix for each division was dropped in the station call sign, for instance Swanley, under the old system was named as Station S31 the S standing for South Division, now it is just Station 31.
Retained to Part Time
On the first of June 2011 the Retained Duty System was replaced with the Part Time Duty system, Under the old system Retained Firefighters responded from home or work and typically provided cover for around 120 hours a week. Under the new system the Firefighters only provide up to 60 hours a week. There are 2 elements to the new system, 'On Call' and 'Positive Hours'. The 'On Call' element is provided by responding to a pager within 4 minutes of an emergency call. The 'Positive Hours' element includes spending time on station either for training or maintenance, or in some cases providing cover at other stations where crewing requires, Firefighters are now on a fixed salary depending on their cover provided.
Emergency Calls and Incidents
On an annual basis, Kent Fire and Rescue Service receives approximately 35-40,000 emergency calls. It mobilises resources to about 25,000 emergency incidents each year. The number of emergencies attended has reduced by approximately 25% over the past 10 years, in part a result of Community Safety work undertaken by the Service, and the annual number of deaths and casualties at incidents attended by the Service has also fallen over that time.
There are 6 types of front line Fire Engine in Kent, these are as follows;
Pump (P) - this is the standard appliance across Kent, these are crewed by Part Time Firefighters at the majority of Part Time stations and are the 2nd appliance at all Day Crewed Stations and some Whole Time Stations. These carry mainly fire fighting equipment including; Light Portable Pump, Selection of Delivery Hose, 4 Breathing Apparatus Sets, 2 Hose Reels, First Aid Kit and Defib. 10 Metre ladder, Roof Ladder, Rescue Chocks and Blocks. Chimney Fire fighting equipment, Beaters, Fire Extinguishers.
Pump Ladder (PL) - The same as the standard pump but carries the 13.5 metre ladder and 7 metre Ladder.
Extended Pump Ladder (EPL) - This is a pump ladder but with a Hydraulic Ram and Cutters ('Jaws of Life'), Water Rescue Suits for Water First Responding, Thermal Image Camera.
Rescue Pump Ladder (RPL) - This is an Extended Pump Ladder but carries Dedicated Cutting equipment, Spreaders, Rams and Air Bags. It also carries a Positive Pressure Ventilation Fan (PPV) and Grindex Pump.
Rescue Pump Platform (RPP) - This new (2008) type of appliance carries everything that a Rescue Pump Ladder carries but rather than a 13.5m Ladder it houses a dedicated rescue platform for gaining access to HGV cabs and for use on uneven ground.
Combined Aerial Rescue Pump (CARP) - Introduced in 2010 there is the only type of this appliance in Kent, based at 74 Tunbridge Wells it is a combination of Rescue Pump Ladder and Aerial Ladder Platform. Based on a Scania P chassis it can be used as a front line appliance or as an Aerial appliance.
Alongside Kent Fires front line Fire fighting appliances there are various support appliances stationed around the county these are;
Water Unit - Located at Larkfield and Ashford and crewed by Part Time Firefighters and are mobilised when water supplies are not sufficient. Based on a Scania chassis they carry 11000 litres of water and 2 dams.
Water Management Unit - Located at Tunbridge Wells and Faversham and crewed by Part Time Firefighters these machines carry larger diameter hose and 4 Light Portable Pumps and are usually used at larger incidents where water supplies are not sufficient or water relays are needed, it is also mobilised with a supporting pump and is used when the High Volume Pump is mobilised. It was built by Angus Fire and is on a Scania chassis.
Aerial Ladder Platform - Based at Thanet and Medway and on Scania chassis these are used when a conventional ladder is not sufficient or where a water tower is needed
Turntable Ladder - Based at Ashford and Canterbury and on an unusual Iveco Magirus chassis and is used for high rise rescues and as a water tower.
Fire Fogging Unit - Based on a Vauxhall Brava it houses a small pump ideal for grass and woodland fires
Incident Command Unit - Based at Sittingbourne and on a Scania 94G Prime Mover, it will attend all incidents involving 10 pumps or more.
Kent Fire and Rescue Service operates 55 fire stations, 14 of which are crewed day and night (wholetime) some also have a Part Time appliance, 9 day crewed (Monday to Friday 09:00 - 18:00, Saturday and Sunday 09:00 - 13:00 - these stations also have a pump crewed by part time firefighters co-located with them) and the remaining 32 stations are crewed by part time firefighters who live in the local community, near to their fire station and can arrive there within four minutes of being mobilised. Kent also has one Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Station located in Maidstone behind Maidstone Fire Station, Opened in 2009 it houses state of the USAR training and has a collapsed building simulator inside, one of the first in the UK. There are 5 Stations groups or divisions, North, South, East, West and Mid Kent. Located within each group are Station Clusters which number 19. Clusters are groups of Fire Stations that are managed locally, each cluster consists of its Fire Stations, 3 Station Managers, and 1 Group Manager.
Kent Fire and Rescue Service works in partnership with the South East Coast Ambulance Service to provide emergency medical cover to area of Kent. These are 5 areas that have been identified as having a greater need for ambulance cover. The aim of a co-responder team is to preserve life until the arrival of either a Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV) or an ambulance. Co-responder vehicles are equipped with oxygen and automatic external defibrillation (AED) equipment. 5 of Kent fire stations operating as co-responders:
- Paddock Wood