Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service
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|Chief Fire Officer||Rebecca Bryant|
|Facilities and equipment|
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is the statutory fire and rescue service responsible for fire protection, prevention, intervention and emergency rescue in the county of Staffordshire and unitary authority of Stoke-on-Trent. The county has a population of 1,126,200 (mid-2017 est.) and covers a total area of 2,260 sq km (1,010 sq miles). Staffordshire shares the majority of its border with Derbyshire, Cheshire, West Midlands (County) and Shropshire; although, in much shorter stretches, the county also butts up against Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Leicestershire.
The fire service functions under the control of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Authority, a joint authority made up of councillors from several areas of the county.
The county provides considerable risks to its residents and firefighters. These include the industrial city of Stoke-on-Trent and the large industrial towns of Burton-upon-Trent, Stafford, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Tamworth and Cannock.
The busiest stretch of motorway in Europe (the M6 between Walsall and the north-west) runs through the county, as does the M6 Toll road. The main 'A‘ roads the A5, A50, A34 and A38 also cross the county. These well-used routes are regularly the scene of numerous road traffic accidents, vehicle fires and chemical incidents.
There are also many significant rural risks in Staffordshire: The medieval hunting grounds of Cannock Chase is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and is made up of heathland, chaseland and forest that stetches between Stafford, Cannock, Rugeley and Chase Terrace. In the north of the county the Staffordshire Moorlands is an area of remote wilderness where The Pennines spill over the Derbyshire and Cheshire borders, and has an area of around 576 square kilometres (220 square miles). These areas pose a considerable risk of wildfires, and regularly keep firefighters exteremely busy during hot dry spells. Also, the moorlands offer their own logistical difficulties during harsh winters, particularly to the residents of the towns and villages dotted thoroughout the hills - towns like Leek and Biddulph, and the villages of Ipstones and Longnor amongst others. The Staffordshire Moorlands is home to Flash, the highest village in Britain. It stands 463 metres (1,518 feet) above sea level.
The service is run under the command of the Chief Fire Officer and an executive board, and provides emergency response from 33 strategically located fire stations, divided into three delivery groups:
Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service has its headquarters and training school at Pirehill near the town of Stone in mid-Staffordshire. Their fire control centre used to be at Pirehill, but was closed after its amalgamation with fire control of the West Midlands Fire Service in March 2014. So now both brigades operate under a joint control centre situated in Birmingham. The county's maintenance workshops are located at Hanley fire station in central Stoke-on-Trent.
Of the thirty-three strategically located fire stations, only Stafford, Tamworth Belgrave and Sandyford operate on a wholetime 24-hour crewing basis. Longton, Hanley, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Cannock and Burton-upon-Trent operate as wholetime/retained stations, which means, along with a 24-hour station-based compliment of firefighters, they have retained on-call "back-up" personnel that, when required, crew the second fire engine housed at the fire station, as well as some of the specialist appliances stationed there. All wholetime firefighters work the four "watch" system. This produces an eight-day week, with crews operating on a "two-days-on, two-nights-on, four-days-off" system. The eight-day week means that a firefighter's duty shifts and their days off "rotate" by one day week-to-week. Leek and Lichfield fire stations are day-crewed/retained: firefighters respond from the fire station as wholetime firefighters between the hours of 9:00am and 6:00pm with a retained on-call crew available if needed to crew other appliances based at the station. After 6:00pm the stations become retained on-call only, and the fire appliances are crewed by the same firefighters but not from the station itself. All other Staffordshire fire stations are retained on-call only. All retained firefighters respond from home or work, and are notified by a pager, and, therefore, have to live or work within five minutes driving time of their station to meet strict Home Office response times.
|Station Callsign||Station Name||Duty System||Appliances|
|T11||Leek||Day Crewed/Retained||PRT, WrT/ARU, L4V|
|T21||Newcastle-under-Lyme||Wholetime/Retained/Cross Crewed*||PRT, WrT, WRU*, WFU*, IRU*|
|T31||Hanley||Wholetime/Retained/Cross Crewed*||2x PRL, 2x PM* for EDLU, WSU and MDD demountable pod units|
|T32||Burslem||Retained/Cross Crewed*||WrT, WFU*|
|T33||Longton||Wholetime/Retained/Cross Crewed*||PRT, WrT, ALP*, RT*, DIM*|
|T41||Stafford||Wholetime/Cross Crewed*||PRL, RRU*|
|T42||Stone||Retained/Cross Crewed*||PRL, ICU*|
|T45||Rising Brook, Stafford||Retained||WrT|
|T51||Burton-upon-Trent||Wholetime/Retained/Cross Crewed*||PRT, WrT, ALP*, WFU*, IRU*|
|T61||Cannock||Wholetime/Retained||PRT, RRP, HAR, F/WC|
|T62||Rugeley||Retained/Cross Crewed*||PRL, 2x PM* for 2x HVP modules*|
|T71||Lichfield||Day Crewed/Retained||PRT, TRV|
|T82||Tamworth Belgrave||Wholetime/Cross Crewed*||PRT, WRU*|
|T91||Bilbrook & Codsall||Retained||PRL|
Fire appliance glossary/callsigns
- PRT - Pump Rescue Tender: P1
- PRL - Pump Rescue Ladder: P1/P2
- WrT - Water Tender: P1/P2
- RRP - Rural Response Pump: P1/P2
- WrT/ARU - Water Tender/Animal Rescue Unit: P2
- TRV - Targeted Response Vehicle (light pumping appliance): L1
- HAR - Unimog All-Terrain Heathland Pump/Animal Rescue Unit: R3
- ALP - Aerial Ladder Platform: A1
- RT - Rescue Tender: R1
- F/WC - Foam/Water Carrier: W1
- WRU - Water Rescue Unit: R2
- RRU - Rope Rescue Unit: R5
- ICU - Incident Control Unit: C1
- L4V - Light 4x4 Vehicle: M1
- WFU - Welfare Unit: S1
- PM+HVP - Prime Mover + High Volume Pump: T8
- PM - Prime Mover: T9
- VSU - Victim Support Unit: S7
Demountable pod units
- Environmental Damage Limitation Unit (EDLU)
- Welfare Support Unit (WSU)
- Detection, Identification & Monitoring Unit (DIM): H8
- Incident Response Unit (IRU): H9
- Prime Mover + Mass Decontamination Disrobe Unit (PM+MDD): T9
- 2x prime movers + high-volume-pumping unit and high-volume-pump hose-laying pod: T8
Chassis and bodybuilders in use
During the 1970s, Staffordshire Fire Brigade operated a mixed fleet of fire appliances built on Ford D, Bedford TK, Thornycroft and Dennis F chassis. The '80s saw the fleet become dominated by Dennis RSs and several SSs with bodywork by Dennis. During the late '80s and early '90s, remaining faithful to Dennis, Staffordshire purchased Dennis Sabres with bodywork by John Dennis Coachbuilders. But after the demise of Dennis as a chassis provider the fleet purchasers at Staffordshire Fire & Rescue service opted for Scania P94Ds with construction responsibilities shared between John Dennis Coachbuilders and Emergency One UK. They also purchased three M.A.N. 14.28 pump rescue ladders that were allocated to quieter, more rural stations; but these didn't prove too popular and were removed from active service ahead of time. As the ageing Dennis fleet was slowly retired the county soon became standardised on the Scania P chassis, although sister company M.A.N. were entrusted to provide the base for several "special" appliances, and to a one-off order of three four-wheeled-drive "Rural Response Pumps" which were allocated to the rural outposts of Longnor near Buxton and to Ipstones near Leek, with the third going to Cannock as their second-away pump.
Recently Staffordshire decided to take a drastic step away from the typically British type fire engine - although Staffordshire's current fire engines are built on a foreign chassis with a foreign cab, the actual fire engine itself is quintessentially British, and is typical of the type utilised by almost every British fire service for decades. But in 2017 Staffordshire F&RS placed an order for eleven radical pumping appliances with a very distinctive European flavour from the British arm of the Austrian company Rosenbauer, Rosenbauer UK. Underneath, while still a typical "B-Type" fire engine, in styling they resemble the fire engines seen operating on mainland Europe for decades. They are Rosenbauer AT appliances where the "AT" stands for "advanced technology". So in many ways, they are far removed from the usual British fire engine because of their many innovations developed at world-leading Rosenbauer. They are built on the Volvo FL6.14 chassis, which is another first for Staffordshire. Each of Staffordshire's ten wholetime/day-crewed fire stations will receive one AT, with the eleventh going to Penkridge, Staffordshire's busiest on-call (retained) station. The appliances are similar to those recently purchased by Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service and by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service. Deliveries were expected to begin in the Spring of 2018, but now, because of teething problems, are expected to begin in February and continue through the spring and summer of 2019.
As is the craze with all UK fire brigades, the obsession with jargon has resulted in Staffordshire designating their frontline pumping appliances in at least four different ways: Pump Rescue Ladder, Pump Rescue Tender, Water Tender and Rural Response Pump. But they have recently committed to simplify the unnecessary jargon by referring to all of their frontline pumping appliances as Pump Rescue Ladders (PRL) in the near future. But for now the following list of chassis and body-builders explains the current fleet's designations:
- PRL - New pumping appliances on order, due in 2019 - Volvo FL6.14/Rosenbauer AT
- PRT - Scania P285DB/Emergency One
- PRL & WrT - Scania P94D/Emergency One, Scania P94D/John Dennis Coachbuilders, Scania 270DB/Emergency One
- RRP - M.A.N. TGM 15.284 (4x4)/Emergency One
- WrT/ARU - M.A.N. TGM 15.280 (4x4)/Emergency One
- TRV - Mercedes Benz Sprinter 515 CDi/Angloco
- HAR - Mercedes Benz Unimog U5000/Angloco
- ALP - Scania P94DB/Bronto Skyline F32RL/Angloco
- RT - Scania P270DB/Wawrzaszek/Emergency One
- F/WC - M.A.N. TGA 26.363 (6x4)/Angloco
- WRU - Mercedes Benz Sprinter 516 CDi/?
- RRU - Land Rover 110 Defender 2.5 TDi/?
- ICU - Mercedes Benz Sprinter 515 CDi/McNeillie
- L4V - Ford Ranger/?
- WFU - Vauxhall Movano 2.5 CDTi/?
- HVP - M.A.N. TGA 26.363 Highline/Kuiken Hytrans
- PM - M.A.N. TGA 26.363 Highline
- VSU - Fiat Mobile Home (British Red Cross vehicle)
Austerity, budget cuts and "modernisation"
After the financial crisis struck in 2007 and 2008, slowly, many economic powerhouses on the planet sank into recession. The British government had little choice but to 'tighten its belt'. Britain soon found itself adopting austerity measures to avoid the country going bankrupt. Public services such as hospitals, schools, the police and fire services soon found their budgets slashed dramatically. And many of these fine public services had to operate with less and less money. Fire service cuts were inevitable. Between 2011 and 2015 Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service were forced to make a £4 million saving. In 2016 they had a further £1.5 million cut from their £45 million annual budget. By 2009 austerity had seen 70 full-time firefighter jobs lost.
Along with the most valuable resource - firefighters - inevitably fire appliances were lost too. Burton-upon-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme each used to operate two wholetime fire engines and one retained. Both stations had a wholetime pump replaced by a 'targeted response vehicle': a smaller fire appliance based on a Mercedes Benz van chassis. Several of these appliances were purchased over the next few years, and were used to replace conventional full-sized fire engines. Reports of their effectiveness are mixed, but eventually all but one of them has been retired or mothballed. Today only Lichfield operate one, and is crewed by their retained sector.
Hanley in Stoke-on-Trent city centre used to operate a turntable ladder high-reach appliance, but it was never replaced when it was retired. County town Stafford once operated two wholetime pumps, a high-reach aerial ladder platform, a rescue tender and a rope rescue unit. Today it operates one wholetime pump and the Land Rover rope rescue unit. Its hydraulic platform and rescue tender were not replaced upon their retirement, and their second pump transferred to the newly built Rising Brook retained fire station on the opposite side of the town.
Burslem fire station in Stoke-on-Trent was once a wholetime/retained station operating two pumps and a foam tender, when in 2011 a new one-pump wholetime fire station became operational at Sandyford near Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent. Burslem fire station then became a single-pump retained set-up. Their foam capability transferred to Cheadle. At the same time the two-pump day-crewed/retained station at Kidsgrove to the north of Stoke lost their day-crewed pump, becoming a one-pump retained station.
In 2010/2011 Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service began a major fire station rebuild and modernisation programme. The £100 million required to build twenty-two brand-new state-of-the-art 'community fire stations' and to modernise six others came from a PFI initiative. The towns of Stafford and Tamworth also gained a second fire station to enable firefighters to meet strict attendance times in the congested towns. The extensive rebuild was divided into two phases:
- Phase One: Complete rebuilds at Burslem, Cannock, Hanley, Kidsgrove, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Uttoxeter; with brand-new additional stations at Rising Brook (Stafford) and Sandyford (Stoke-on-Trent); two brand-new stations in Tamworth to replace the one existing station located in the town centre which found itself far enough away from the newly-built areas of the rapidly growing town to merit a second station to meet strict response times. The two new stations are designated as Tamworth Belgrave (wholetime) and Tamworth Mercia (retained on-call). Phase One also saw significant refurbishments at Biddulph, Barton-under-Needwood, Cheadle, Gnosall, Longnor and Wombourne.
- Phase Two : Complete rebuilds at Burton-upon-Trent, Chase Terrace, Codsall (now designated as Bilbrook & Codsall), Kinver, Leek, Lichfield, Loggerheads (to replace nearby Ashley fire station which closed when the new station became operational), Longton (Stoke-on-Trent), Penkridge, Rugeley and Stone.
- Fire service in the United Kingdom
- Staffordshire Police
- West Midlands Ambulance Service
- List of British firefighters killed in the line of duty