Emergency Services Show 2019

Two firefighters compete in the 2018 first aid and trauma challenge at the NEC

We’re really looking forward to hosting two realistic and interactive road traffic collision (RTC) rescue challenges at this year’s Emergency Services Show.

Taking place at the NEC, Birmingham from 18 to 19 September, the Extrication and First Aid & Trauma Challenges will provide an arena for some of the UK’s best rescue personnel to come together and develop their proficiency levels in all areas of RTC rescue.

An image of the road traffic collision extrication challenge at last year's Emergency Services Show

On both days of the show, which is free to attend, competing teams from across the country will perform extrications from a series of realistic RTC scenarios featuring heavy and complex damage. Volunteer members of the our own Casualty Simulation Group will play the roles of casualties, complete with make-up and prosthetics.

Teams will have 20 minutes from their ‘arrival’ at these simulated incidents to complete as much of the scenario as is safely possible. The action will be captured from a variety of camera angles and broadcast live to a large display screen.

In the First Aid & Trauma Challenge, teams of two will experience visual and audio inputs from a trauma scenario that has been set up and filmed especially, in an ‘immersive’ tent. They’ll have 10 minutes to assess, treat, ‘package’ and handover the patient to a medic.

Both challenges will be judged by the United Kingdom Rescue Organisation (UKRO) who will ensure that best safe working practices are promoted in the areas of incident command and control, safety and scene assessment, extrication, professional pre-hospital care and expert use of rescue equipment.

Various national fire and rescue service crews will compete aiming to become the highest qualifying regional team. These top teams then go on to compete in national and international championships.

Watch Commander Martin McManus of West Midlands Fire Service said: “UK fire and rescue services strive to deliver the ‘gold standard’. They respond every year to thousands of incidents, many of which are extremely challenging and technical. As vehicle design and technology develop at pace, it’s essential that our crews train regularly and keep on top of these developments so they can respond quickly, safely and professionally when they’re called.”

The Extrication and First Aid & Trauma Challenges promise to be highly interactive and immersive experiences for participants and show visitors alike. The Emergency Services Show also offers a programme of free CPD seminars covering Lessons Learnt, Health & Wellbeing, Emerging Technologies and IT, while the College of Paramedics will host its well-attended CPD training sessions on both days of the event.

With over 450 exhibiting companies, The Emergency Services Show is the UK’s largest event for the emergency services and offers many opportunities to get hands-on with the latest kit and simulation technology. It is supported by the Airport Fire Officers Association, British Fire Services Association, Fire Industry Association, FIRE AID and International Development, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, Institution of Fire Engineers, JESIP, The Fire Fighters Charity, the National Fire Chiefs Council and UKRO.

All aspects of The Emergency Services Show, including the exhibition, seminars and challenges are free to attend, as is parking at the venue. To register for free entry and to find out more visit

Two firefighters compete in the 2018 first aid and trauma challenge at the NEC

Our emergency response work is rated ‘outstanding’

A graphic representing a city skyline

West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) has been graded as ‘Good’ in a report published today (20 June) by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS). 

This is the first report completed by HMICFRS into WMFS since the inspection programme recommenced in 2018 after a break of several years, during which time WMFS has seen significant government funding reductions.    

Overall the inspectorate has commented that they are ‘very pleased with the performance of West Midlands Fire Service in keeping people safe and secure, and in particular with its effectiveness 

This has been made possible through the commitment of our staff in supporting the organisation to evolve so as to maintain or improve vital services to the community. We hope that people across the West Midlands take confidence from the way in which we respond to incidents and reduce risk and vulnerability within the community.  

WMFS is the only fire and rescue service, out of 30 assessed in two rounds of inspections to date, to receive the top ‘outstanding’ rating for its emergency response work.  

Our response work contributes to our overall rating of ‘good’ for effectiveness, efficiency and how well we look after our staff. 

Phil Loach, our Chief Fire Officer, said: “We know, from our previous consultations, that the public expect and value a gold standard emergency response service. I’m delighted by the report’s recognition of the hard work, dedication and professionalism of staff in providing exactly that. 

“We get to our most life-threatening emergencies in an average of 4 minutes and 43 seconds. This is made possible by our Service Delivery Model, which enables us to deliver assertive, effective and safe emergency response.” 

The report adds that WMFS “has developed a comprehensive understanding of risk” which helps us plan the use of our resources effectively to deliver response, prevention and protection services. 

CFO Loach added “Because we understand risk and how to manage it through prevention and protection activities, we can use our different shift systems and different vehicles with differently sized crews to be in the community working to reduce risk and vulnerability. This work is done by the same frontline firefighters who respond to 999 calls and is targeted at the West Midlands’ most vulnerable people and premises. 

“We welcome the report from HMICFRS and our staff and communities should be reassured that there are many areas for celebration. As an organisation we are always looking for ways to improve and there are areas within the report which recommend areas for focus. We will use the information in the report as part of the evidence to support ongoing development.  As an organisation we aim to continue to deliver a first-class service to make our communities safer, stronger and healthier.” 

Cllr John Edwards, Chair of the West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority commented: “I’m very pleased with the outcome of this national inspection. Across the measures of effectiveness, efficiency and people West Midlands Fire Service has been found to have an overall grading of ‘good’, and on the vital issue of responding to incidents we have been ranked as ‘outstanding’.  

Our average response time to life-threatening incidents is validated at 4 minutes 43 seconds, probably the fastest in the UK 

Given the unprecedented level of government funding reductions totalling £38 million since 2011 this performance is remarkable. My thanks go to every member of staff at WMFS who have contributed to this achievement. It underlines the success of the strategy that has been implemented over many years.” 

To read our full report and press release from HMICFRS, please click here. 

Aghia Pal Singh MBE

We’re proud and delighted that Aghia Pal Singh, a member of our staff, has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2019.   

Aghia (59), who’s from Walsall and has worked as an infrastructure engineer in our ICT department for 22 years, has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire.    

The honour recognises his services to the communities of the West Midlands and his voluntary work in the UK and abroad.

Aghia, who’s married and has a daughter and two sons, said: “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be awarded the MBE. I read the letter in disbelief and was overcome with emotion. I’m very grateful to whoever put me forward.    

“Working for West Midlands Fire Service has given me the opportunity to give something to the community – be that at work, through volunteering with the UK International Search and Rescue Team or via the various charity projects with which I’m involved.   

“As a Sikh I have tried, over the years, to put back into the community. Sikhism teaches that people should try to become less self-centred and live their lives in the selfless service of others.   

“All I wanted to do was make a difference in people’s lives. I’m very humbled.”   

Chief Fire Officer Phil Loach said: “Aghia’s MBE is worthy recognition indeed. He is quiet, unassuming and professional and his contribution to the community is understated.    

“He is passionate about the work he does for those who are less fortunate, and dedicated to promoting equality and awareness of other cultures.”   

Councillor John Edwards, Chair of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “We’re grateful for all that Aghia continues to do, not least his work building strong links between West Midlands Fire Service and the Sikh community. He is a tremendous advocate for the service, its work and its career opportunities.”   

Aghia is one of a group of WMFS staff who volunteer their skills and expertise as members of UK International Search and Rescue (UKISAR). On behalf of the UK Government they have been deployed on several occasions to disasters around the world.   

Aghia is particularly proud of the links he has helped to foster with the Matumaini Orphanage in Tanzania, which he and WMFS colleagues have visited several times to help improve its facilities.    

He said: “The children have given us more than we could ever give them, in just teaching us to be happy however hard life might be. Even though they have very little, they always had a smile on their face.   

“I understand that the honours system exists to thank recipients for their services to the community, but also to encourage others to do the same. I hope my award has that effect on my family, friends and others who know me.” 

Hot news: Station officially opens

Photograph of Coventry Fire Station signage

Coventry’s new community fire station will be officially opened this weekend – and it’s throwing open its doors to the public!

Following an opening ceremony for invited guests, the Radford Road site will be staging a road safety awareness day from 12noon until 4pm on Sunday (2 June), to coincide with the city’s two-day MotoFest.

Coventry Community Fire Station

Visitors will be able to tour the new fire station and watch firefighters giving demonstrations of how they rescue people from car crashes and give first aid. Advice will also be available on the safe fitting of child car seats.

There’ll be a visit from our fire investigation dog and our fire motorbike will also be on display.

Would-be firefighters aged 16 and over can attend a pre-recruitment talk at 1pm.

Entertainment will be provided by our very own wind band and choir.

Chief Fire Officer Phil Loach said: “The evidence from our Integrated Risk Management Plan and Community Safety Strategy reaffirmed that the existing site was optimum for achieving our risk-based, five-minute response time.

“That response standard is at the heart of the new station’s design. We know from our studies of reaction times that seconds do count, so the functional and most-used spaces are nearest to the engine house.

“The previous station was four decades old. Its replacement gives the city’s firefighters a modern base at the heart of the community. From it they carry out extensive community and business fire safety work, focusing on vulnerable people and premises most in need of their skills and expert knowledge.”

Councillor John Edwards, Chair of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “We’re proud of the role that all of our stations play in their communities, and I’m sure that Coventry’s new one will be no exception. I’m confident that everyone who visits on Sunday will see it as a valuable community asset.”

The city station’s firefighters relocated while their old base was replaced with West Midlands Fire Service’s (WMFS) newest build. Operational since December, the Radford Road project was designed by Bond Bryan Architects and built by Wilmot Dixon.

A photograph of Coventry fire station with fire engine outside

Richard Stanton, Group Commander for Coventry and Solihull, said: “We’re very proud of our new station. It’s a fantastic community facility and we’re really looking forward to welcoming visitors on Sunday.

“The station includes a large, dedicated space for community use which is complemented by another area currently being used by a partner organisation. The gym facilities will also be available for initiatives with health agencies.

“Our fire cadets used to be limited to a standalone area of the old station, but a great advantage of the new one is that they’re now integrated with our operational crews. Sunday will also be the perfect opportunity to celebrate the cadets’ 30th anniversary.”

And the turnout system incorporated into the design is the first of its kind at WMFS.

“The technology alerts crews to the incident type and location, plus who’s going, all as they’re heading to the vehicles,” added G/Cmdr Stanton. “Reaction times are already showing significant improvements. We’re now looking at displaying their initial route on screens by the engine bay doors, which they’ll see as they mobilise.”

When they return from an incident, firefighters enter a ‘dirty’ kit cleaning and drying area before a ‘clean’ zone where they get fresh kit before reaching the station’s office areas. An innovative kit heating system allows kit to be dried faster and to be ready for operational use much quicker than traditional drying rooms.

Improvements to the station’s pre-existing fire house should be completed by Spring 2020, ensuring it meets the training needs of a 21st Century fire and rescue service.

Birmingham Pride 2019

Fire service staff in the Birmingham Pride parade holding a banner that reads West Midlands Fire Service wishes you a safe pride.

This weekend (25-26 May) sees Birmingham Pride Festival return to the West Midlands.

The two-day LGBT Festival is the biggest of its kind in the UK and one of the bigger community events of the year. And we’ll be there to support the region’s amazing diversity!

West Midlands Fire Service float during the 2018 Birmingham Pride parade

Firefighters and staff from across our organisation will join the celebrations along with members of our very own LGBT support network, FireOUT, and police and ambulance service colleagues – be sure to give us all a wave during Saturday’s parade!

Assistance Chief Fire Officer, Gary Taylor, who will be attending on Saturday, said: “West Midlands Fire Service is thrilled to be able to attend Birmingham Pride this year, as always, and we hope that everyone has a safe and happy time.

“Pride is a celebration of diversity and community spirit and we are delighted to be invited to take part. Our crews and staff always have a great time interacting with our communities and we always receive a warm welcome.

“Pride is also a great opportunity for us to celebrate the amazing diversity we have within our own service. We’re hoping that as many of our LGBT staff and supporters who are able can join us.”

This is the second year we’ve entered our own float in the parade – one of our former incident response units, it’s been given a new lease of life and is in demand at community events across the West Midlands and further afield.

Following Saturday’s parade in Birmingham city centre, the float will be on Hurst Street playing music to the crowds, with crews and staff hoping to meet as many members of our communities as possible over the weekend.

To see more of what our crews get up to at Pride, follow @WMFSFireOUT on Twitter or check our Instagram or Twitter channels both with the username @WestMidsFire

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