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Neil Spencer

Digital innovation – making our communities safer

Someone using an iPad in front of a laptop

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant we’ve all had to embrace new ways of connecting and working together – fire and rescue services included.

Whilst we can’t currently host our usual programme of events, The Hub at West Midlands Fire Service is delighted to invite you to join us online on 19 January 2021.

fire officer working with laptops

Hear first-hand how we and some of our partners adapted to many challenges of 2020.

Speakers will describe how they’ve found innovative ways to embrace technology and a digital approach to keep our communities safe.

Host Mark Hamilton-Russell, Strategic Enabler of Communications for West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS), will be welcoming speakers from WMFS, local authorities and partner organisations.

Mark said “We’ve been inspired by and are incredibly proud of how staff throughout our service have risen to the challenges of the pandemic.  The event will celebrate and showcase how we and our partners have been adapting to continue providing excellent services to our communities, including some of our most vulnerable residents.”

Hannah Spencer, Senior Resilience Officer from WMFS, will outline how technology has enabled continued communications, learning and resilience.

Paul Withers, Protection Manager for Resource and Transformation at Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council, will be providing valuable insight on Active Intervention Management (AIM) and how data has been used to help make communities safer.

The agenda also features sessions on the use of Virtual Reality and how training, assessment and education teams are embracing this new world. The event will be closed by Richard Westman from Kaido discussing the impact the digital working world has on our workforce.

This is a free event. Please click here to register and secure your place.

No need to speed

A car's speedometer

West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) is supporting this year’s BRAKE National Road Safety Week 2020 (16- 22 Nov 2020).

This year’s campaign focuses on the ‘what, why and where’ of speed – and the wide-ranging impacts it can have on different people in different environments.

Road safety week no need to speed graphic

Peter Allington, of WMFS’s Road Casualty Reduction Team, said; “We work closely with local road safety partners to coordinate our road safety prevention activities.

“Our ultimate goal is to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured in road traffic collisions across the West Midlands by 40% over the next 10 years, as set out in the West Midlands Regional Road Safety Strategy.

“We fully support BRAKE’s ‘No Need To Speed’ campaign. We would urge all drivers to drive safely, within the speed limit or road conditions. This is especially important where there are more vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and e-scooter riders.”

Slower traffic can make places feel more welcoming for the people who live, work, and play in them. Choosing, for example, to walk or cycle to get around can also bring health, fitness and wellbeing benefits.

Did you know?

Almost a quarter of road traffic collisions involve someone who was driving too fast (Source: Department for Transport 2020)

Every year, more than 3,000 children and young people aged 0-17 are killed or suffer life-changing injuries on Britain’s roads Department of Transport, 2019)

Road traffic collisions are the biggest killer of children and young people aged 5-29 worldwide (Source: World Health Organisation, 2019)

Check out our ‘On the Roads’ advice and safety tips:

Have a happy, safe Diwali!

Diwali divas in a circle

This Diwali (Sat 14-Sun 15 Nov), West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) is urging families to celebrate with extra care.

Also known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is one of the biggest celebrations in the Sikh, Hindu and Jain calendar. Fireworks, candles and oil lamps, as well as special meals with family and friends, usually add to the festive mood.

This year, however, restrictions on social gatherings because of the pandemic and the current lockdown, mean that many public events have been cancelled – meaning that more people might be tempted to use fireworks at home.

Diwali divas in a circle

Between 2014 and 2019, WMFS firefighters responded to some 1,760 firework and bonfire-related incidents. During the same period, there were more than 1,000 severe burn injuries involving fireworks in England and Wales, with 38% of these involving under-15s and the majority being male.

Divas and candles also have the potential to cause serious burns and fires if not used and extinguished properly. Families are being encouraged to take care with hot oil and ensure that traditional clothing, such as saris, and long hair are kept away from naked flames.

Watch Commander Gurpreet Gill, of WMFS, said: “Diwali is a really special time for me and my family, as well as thousands of other households across the West Midlands. This year the celebrations will be much smaller and feel very different, but it’s important we all keep a focus on safety.

“Please be sure to follow the current rules on social gatherings, and take extra care with candles and divas – LEDs can be a safe, colourful alternative. If you’re cooking up a feast, never leave your cooking unattended, be careful with hot oil and keep an eye on the kids in the kitchen.

“Our biggest concern this year is the use of fireworks in back gardens. If you feel you must go ahead with your own Diwali firework celebration, plan ahead and remember that fireworks are explosives. Buy suitable, legal fireworks from a licensed supplier and ensure you have enough outdoor space to use them safely – usually between five and 25 metres – in accordance with the instructions.”

For more fire safety advice and guidance to keep you and your family safe during Diwali, please visit

Recently-introduced Government legislation gives police the powers to fine people who break lockdown measures. Restrictions on social gatherings – both nationally and locally – are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to ease pressures on the NHS.

Statement: The Black Country Flag

West Midlands Fire Service Crest

Statement from Phil Loach, Chief Fire Officer of West Midlands Fire Service,
and Councillor Greg Brackenridge, Chair of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority

Last week, West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) asked staff not to fly the Black Country flag at our sites but, instead, to find alternative ways of marking Black Country Day.  
In our statements to media outlets we explained that we were seeking to form a fully rounded view of the flag’s chain imagery and questions it raises in the context of slavery. 
It has never been in question that the flag’s design – created by Gracie Sheppard when she was a schoolgirl – was honestly conceived as a celebration of all that is positive about the Black Country’s heritage. Many people, predominantly from the area, have clear pride in the emblem.   
However, for some people, the flag’s chain imagery is a reminder of links between Black Country industry and slavery. This is all the more relevant for our service, given the support of WMFS and West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority (WMFRA) for the global Black Lives Matter movement, which resonates directly and personally with many of our staff.  
Our association with Black Country Day has involved various activities over many years. It is an important association, not least because of the employment we provide in the area and services which make the Black Country and the entire West Midlands safer, stronger and healthier.  
We have now given detailed consideration to the issues raised, gathering views and information from within the service and a range of external sources     
WMFS and WMFRA will support the continued use of the flag throughout celebrations of the Black Country’s rich heritage, in which many of staff and our communities have a clear and unquestionable pride.