Frequently asked questions

We get asked lots of questions, so we’ve tried to put the most common ones and their answers in our FAQ’s below. You can scroll down our frequently asked questions, or use the search to find what you’re looking for!

 

Communities

Most community rooms have a kitchenette with cold water, kettle and cups available, we will let you know about this when you book.

The on-duty firefighters may be able to provide tea, coffee, milk, sugar and squash. There would be a charge for this.

Please let us know your requirements when you book, and we will check availability. You are welcome to bring your own ingredients, and we ask that all items are taken with you at the end of your booking.

We do not provide hot or cold food; however, you are welcome to bring your own food or order a buffet to be delivered. We ask that all food is cleared away and unused items taken with you at the end of your booking.

Alcohol cannot be bought onto or consumed on any fire service premises. Smoking is not permitted in any fire service buildings; however, outside smoking shelters are provided.

 

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If we have the capacity the fire service may attend events such as fete’s, carnivals, fun days, to promote our community safety message.

Please contact your local Operations Administration Team to check for station availability, the numbers, depending on where the event is located, are below:

Birmingham

0121 380 7510
BhamOps.admin@wmfs.net

Coventry and Solihull

0121 380 7520
coventry.admin@wmfs.net

Black Country

0121 380 7530
BlackCountryOps.Admin@wmfs.net

Attendance is always subject to emergency calls, which must take priority.

 

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Our education priority is to deliver our safety presentation, SPARKS to every Key Stage 2, Year 4 class in the West Midlands.

SPARKS are our priority, however, if we have the capacity we can deliver a package called “People Who Help Us”. This package is age appropriate and delivered by on-duty firefighters.

Please contact your local Operations Administration Team to check availability.

Birmingham

0121 380 7510
BhamOps.admin@wmfs.net

Coventry and Solihull

0121 380 7520
coventry.admin@wmfs.net

Black Country

0121 380 7530
BlackCountryOps.Admin@wmfs.net

Attendance is always subject to emergency calls, which must take priority.

 

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We do not provide services to commercial companies or the public for filling ponds, pools, lakes or other areas. Because our resources are limited, we have to prioritise emergency incidents.

There are exceptional circumstances where we will aid agencies such as the Environment Agency in emergency situations that affect wildlife or the environment, but these are rare and at the discretion of the service, typically they would incur a ‘special service call’ charge.

 

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We do have community rooms available for hire at some of our stations, with priority given to community groups, voluntary organisations, statutory partners and partner agencies who contribute to our key partnership objective of ‘Building Healthier, Safer and Stronger Communities’.

Charges are at the discretion of the Station Commander with this being approximately £50 for a half day and £100 for a full day.

For details of community room availability and how to book, please contact the admin team for the area the station is in:

Birmingham

0121 380 7510
BhamOps.admin@wmfs.net

Coventry and Solihull

0121 380 7520
coventry.admin@wmfs.net

Black Country

0121 380 7530
BlackCountryOps.Admin@wmfs.net

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The key focus for our crews is building healthier, safer and stronger communities through response, prevention and protection. Unfortunately, we do not have the capacity to attend private parties. However, we wish you every success with your celebrations!

If you do want to hire a fire engine for your celebrations, there may be other options available privately. Try searching ‘fire engine hire’ in your preferred search engine

 

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The fire service is committed to emergency response and community safety; therefore, we do not always have the capacity to support charitable events other than our support for The Firefighters charity.

For other charity events, our support is entirely discretionary, the Station Commander for that area has the final say, taking into account other station and emergency activities. If you wish your charity event to be considered for fire service attendance, please contact your local station for details. This can be done via our fire stations page.

Please be aware that if we are able to assist you, a share of the profits we help generate, normally 51% will be donated to the “Firefighters charity”.

Unfortunately, we are unable to donate prizes to charitable causes and are also unable to provide a fire engine to escort charitable runners and walkers.

 

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Our firefighters can sometimes organise visits for local community groups for them to find out more about our role, our equipment and vehicles and to give out general or specialised safety advice.

Some of the groups we can organise visits with are Scouts, Beavers, religious and senior citizens groups. All visits, either by our crews or to our stations are subject to the availability of our crews, however, and formal educational visits to schools and operational activity would always take priority.

To organise a visit by a fire crew or to one of our stations, please use the following contact details based on your area. Emails are preferred as our teams receive a lot of enquiries.

Birmingham

0121 380 7510
BhamOps.admin@wmfs.net

Coventry and Solihull

0121 380 7520
coventry.admin@wmfs.net

Black Country

0121 380 7530
BlackCountryOps.Admin@wmfs.net

 

 

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Contact

If we have the capacity the fire service may attend events such as fete’s, carnivals, fun days, to promote our community safety message.

Please contact your local Operations Administration Team to check for station availability, the numbers, depending on where the event is located, are below:

Birmingham

0121 380 7510
BhamOps.admin@wmfs.net

Coventry and Solihull

0121 380 7520
coventry.admin@wmfs.net

Black Country

0121 380 7530
BlackCountryOps.Admin@wmfs.net

Attendance is always subject to emergency calls, which must take priority.

 

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Our education priority is to deliver our safety presentation, SPARKS to every Key Stage 2, Year 4 class in the West Midlands.

SPARKS are our priority, however, if we have the capacity we can deliver a package called “People Who Help Us”. This package is age appropriate and delivered by on-duty firefighters.

Please contact your local Operations Administration Team to check availability.

Birmingham

0121 380 7510
BhamOps.admin@wmfs.net

Coventry and Solihull

0121 380 7520
coventry.admin@wmfs.net

Black Country

0121 380 7530
BlackCountryOps.Admin@wmfs.net

Attendance is always subject to emergency calls, which must take priority.

 

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We do have community rooms available for hire at some of our stations, with priority given to community groups, voluntary organisations, statutory partners and partner agencies who contribute to our key partnership objective of ‘Building Healthier, Safer and Stronger Communities’.

Charges are at the discretion of the Station Commander with this being approximately £50 for a half day and £100 for a full day.

For details of community room availability and how to book, please contact the admin team for the area the station is in:

Birmingham

0121 380 7510
BhamOps.admin@wmfs.net

Coventry and Solihull

0121 380 7520
coventry.admin@wmfs.net

Black Country

0121 380 7530
BlackCountryOps.Admin@wmfs.net

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If a water hydrant is leaking or appears broken, you need to let us know.

We are responsible for hydrants around the West Midlands. Although Severn Trent do have the ability to deal with them in emergencies, usually they will not get involved unless we are unable to attend for some reason.

To report a hydrant problem to us, please complete this short form:


 

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Emergencies

If you need to report a fire it’s VERY important that you dial 999 immediately.

Even if for some reason you don’t feel like it’s an emergency or not worth our time, trust us, it is!

Always dial 999 when there is a fire, no matter how small.

For more details about reporting emergencies to us, please see our emergencies page.

 

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We don’t usually attend cats up trees. Most of the time they aren’t stuck, they could be scared or just enjoying the view!

If you are concerned about a cat up a tree, here are some simple tips to try first.

  • Try and coax it down – try gently calling or showing them treats, they might be tempted!
  • If coaxing doesn’t work, we’d recommend putting down some food or treats and leaving the area for a short time, so the cat can come down by itself
  • Use toys or a laser pointer – cats are known to love chasing things, try using some of their favourite toys or a laser pointer to tease the cat down
  • If none of the above works, put down the treats or food and then leave the cat for a minimum of 24 hours, if it wants to, it’ll come down by itself in this time.

If after 24 hours nothing has worked, call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999. They will be able to give you further advice and if necessary, can send an officer to help you. The fire service will NOT attend cats up trees unless the RSPCA officer is there and they request our assistance formally through our control room.

 

 

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If you can smell burning, particularly if you don’t know what’s causing it, it’s vital you dial 999 immediately.

Just because you can see it, doesn’t mean it won’t get out of control. Even if for some reason you don’t feel like it’s an emergency or not worth our time, trust us, it is!

Always dial 999 when there a smell of burning, or a fire, no matter how small.

For more details about reporting emergencies to us, please see our emergencies page.

 

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Whilst we can assist with animal rescues, often the best people to speak to are the RSCPA.

If an animal or pet is trapped or stranded in a way that could put it’s life at risk (such as stranded in water, or trapped between wires, fences or buildings) then call us on 999 first. Our skilled operators will be able to assess the situation and give you the best advice.

If it involves pets or animals who are in no danger, such as cats up trees, you should always contact the RSPCA first. We do not attend unless they are at the scene and they require our assistance.

If in doubt, and it’s not urgent, contact us on our non-emergency number 0845 5000 900 for advice.

 

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Fire Safety

Fire safety officers cannot be ‘booked’ to visit your property for general inspections. Things like fire risk assessments are the responsibility of the business owner or responsible person for the premises.

If you require general advice or would like to report an issue with your business or other premises, please visit our Fire Safety section for more details. You’ll find the referral form on the bottom of the page to report an issue or general question.

For any urgent fire safety matters that are a genuine immediate risk to life, please dial 999 and ask for the fire service – an immediate risk to life would be a situation whereby a lack of fire safety would result in serious injury or death imminently if no action is taken.

 

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For alarms that are hard-wired into a building (wired into the electricity) we, unfortunately, cannot offer advice or guidance as every system is different. If there are faults or issues with your alarm system and it is part of the property, you should consult either an electrician or alarm engineer. If the property is rented, the landlord or responsible company for the property should be contacted for guidance first.

 

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Whilst we wouldn’t directly assist with a fire risk assessment for your business premises, there is government provided advice which you should follow to be legally compliant.

This government advice for businesses is freely available to all and should aid you in ensuring your business or premises is compliant with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The above government advice breaks down the different assessment documents required, depending on the type of premises, you should ensure you choose the correct one for your premises or business.

We do offer general guidance on our website for Fire Risk Assessments, you’ll find this on our Fire Safety section. We also offer training courses which are available to those responsible for carrying out Fire Risk Assessments for their premises.

 

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Fly tipping and nuisance rubbish, although it is often a fire risk, it the responsibility of the local council to remove. The fire service has no powers or jurisdiction to stop or control rubbish dumping or fly tipping.

Here are the links directly to the areas on the relevant council’s website to report fly tipping and rubbish removal directly.

Birmingham City Council
Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council
Walsall Council
Dudley Council
Wolverhampton Council
Sandwell Council
Coventry Council

 

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We have strict guidelines and guidelines on licensing for fireworks, as they can be very dangerous.

This government page gives general guidance on the manufacture and storage of fireworks, as well as laws around when they can be sold.

If you still wish to apply to our service for a license, please see our explosives licensing page for details on who can apply, how to do this and the costs involved.

 

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If you have concerns about fire safety at a premise you have visited, stayed at, or observed you can report it to us.

If the matter involves a genuine immediate risk to life, please dial 999 and ask for the fire service – an immediate risk to life would be a situation whereby a lack of fire safety would result in serious injury or death imminently if no action is taken.

If it is not urgent, but needs to be investigated, please complete a fire safety referral. This will give us all the details we need to investigate the matter, and if we need further information, we can get in touch with you using the details you provide us.

Examples of non-urgent but matters that need our attention, but are not immediate life risks would be:

  • shops or hotels regularly blocking fire escapes
  • nightlife premises allowing more people than it’s safe capacity
  • rubbish blocking fire escapes
  • parking that blocks emergency vehicle access
  • communal areas in flats blocked.

 

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Home Safety

For alarms that are hard-wired into a building (wired into the electricity) we, unfortunately, cannot offer advice or guidance as every system is different. If there are faults or issues with your alarm system and it is part of the property, you should consult either an electrician or alarm engineer. If the property is rented, the landlord or responsible company for the property should be contacted for guidance first.

 

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We offer safety checks for your home, though we call them Safe and Well visits. If eligible, the visits involve a fire crew from your local station coming to your home, they’ll assess the fire safety in your property, your personal well-being and give you advice on keeping you safe.

They will also fit smoke alarms for free where they are needed and help you to write your escape plan.

To find out more about safe and well visits and to send us your details to book an appointment go to our Safe and Well area.

 

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We don’t usually attend cats up trees. Most of the time they aren’t stuck, they could be scared or just enjoying the view!

If you are concerned about a cat up a tree, here are some simple tips to try first.

  • Try and coax it down – try gently calling or showing them treats, they might be tempted!
  • If coaxing doesn’t work, we’d recommend putting down some food or treats and leaving the area for a short time, so the cat can come down by itself
  • Use toys or a laser pointer – cats are known to love chasing things, try using some of their favourite toys or a laser pointer to tease the cat down
  • If none of the above works, put down the treats or food and then leave the cat for a minimum of 24 hours, if it wants to, it’ll come down by itself in this time.

If after 24 hours nothing has worked, call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999. They will be able to give you further advice and if necessary, can send an officer to help you. The fire service will NOT attend cats up trees unless the RSPCA officer is there and they request our assistance formally through our control room.

 

 

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If your smoke alarm is beeping intermittently, this normally means the battery is running low. It’s just a case of replacing the battery!

If after doing this it’s still beeping, it may be that it’s faulty and you will need to organise a replacement. If you live in a rented property, your council, housing agency or landlord should be responsible for replacing this for you. If your fire alarm is a sealed unit with no replaceable battery, then either organise a replacement with the manufacturer (if within guarantee) or alternatively purchase a new one. If it was fitted by West Midlands Fire Service, please contact us on 0800 389 5525 and we can organise an appointment for someone to replace it for you.

If you are interested in one of our Safe and Well visits, where we can fit smoke alarms for free and do a general safety check on your home. To find out more and send us your details to book a visit, check out our Safe and Well area.

If your alarm is going off as though there’s a fire, then regardless of whether you know what has caused it, you should dial 999 and ask for the fire service.

 

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Recruitment

We have a policy on secondary employment. Employees can’t have a second job without first obtaining written approval from us.

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We have a policy which prohibits the use of drugs, alcohol and smoking in all of our premises.

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If you want to become a firefighter with us, your first place to look is our firefighter’s careers page. This gives you all the information about recruitment and the role itself to see if it’s the job for you, and details of how to apply are there too!

It isn’t for everyone, and it’s much more than just being fit and healthy. But for those that join our emergency services family, it’s a rewarding career that we hope will last a lifetime!

 

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Yes, but all applicants have to provide an optician’s report. The eyesight standards we provide to opticians are as follows:

Corrected visual acuity should be ‘6/9’ binocularly and a minimum of ‘6/12’ in the weaker eye. The minimum uncorrected vision for recruits should be ‘6/8’ in the better eye and ‘6/24’ in the weaker eye.

An upper ‘hypermetric’ limit of +3.00. Ability to read ‘N12’ at 30cm unaided with both eyes open (for applicants aged 25 and over).

Ability to read ‘N6’ at 30cm unaided with both eyes open (for applicants aged under 25).

No history of night blindness or any ocular disease that is likely to progress and result in failure of the visual standards for firefighters.

Colour Vision

An ‘Ishihara’ test should be used and include all plates, not just the numbers, and it must be performed under suitable lighting conditions (‘Standard Illuminant C’).

For those who fail the ‘Ishihara Plates’ the ‘Farnsworth D15’ test is recommended. The ‘Nagel Anomaloscope’ test (and City University computer based ‘MCV’ test) may also be required, as they are the only techniques that can distinguish between ‘Protanomalous’ and ‘Deuteranomalous’ individuals.

The optician will also be asked whether you have undergone any significant surgery to either eye, including implants or radical ‘Keratotomy’. Please note that laser eye treatment is considered on an individual basis.

The report will be forwarded to our Occupational Health Department for a decision as to your suitability for the role of a firefighter.

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Unfortunately not.

We’ll do our best to place all new employees at a station that doesn’t cause any inconvenience in terms of travel, etc, but we must take into account where we need to fill vacancies.

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We adopt an assertive, safe and effective approach to how we manage incidents.

Whilst there have been some fatalities to firefighters around the country when attending incidents, and they can never be hazard-free, we’ve developed a very positive approach to health and safety. As an organisation, we set extremely high standards and expectations in this area.

Our firefighters work within a ‘competency framework,’ as well as effective personal protective equipment such as helmets and other fire kit. At incidents, safe systems of work are established with a high level of command and control.

Plus, we constantly stress the importance of personal safety to our staff.

Away from incidents, our commitment to health safety and well-being is maintained across all areas of activity.

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We seek to represent the communities we serve in the makeup of our organisation, by employing people from our communities we enhance our organisations knowledge of our local communities. We also contribute to the economic growth of our communities by providing local jobs for local people.

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Not necessarily. If you have a conviction, then a panel will consider the nature of the conviction, its relevance to the role you are applying for, the sentence, any pattern of offending and the length of time since the offence.

You will be informed if a panel is to be convened and will have the opportunity to provide additional information in a supporting statement.

An assessment will then be carried out to identify the risks to us as an organisation, our business, customers, clients and employees. The panel will decide if your application can proceed, and this is usually at an early stage in the recruitment process.

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No – this is a popular misconception, because there used to be restrictions on height, weight and chest expansion. Candidates are expected to pass strength and fitness tests as part of the recruitment process. The tests are at a level that’s achievable by men and women of all different sizes and builds.

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Reports and Administration

If a water hydrant is leaking or appears broken, you need to let us know.

We are responsible for hydrants around the West Midlands. Although Severn Trent do have the ability to deal with them in emergencies, usually they will not get involved unless we are unable to attend for some reason.

To report a hydrant problem to us, please complete this short form:


 

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If you require a report of an incident involving our service, either for your own records or for insurance purposes, we are able to provide it, but there may be a charge.

Please see our information disclosure page to submit your request.

 

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Road Safety

On every journey, always wear a helmet as it will protect your head, significantly reducing the risk of you being killed or seriously injured in the event of an RTC. Visit our road safety page for more details cycling safety advice.

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Alcohol can impair a driver’s reaction time, coordination and judgement of speed and distance. In England and Wales, the alcohol limit for drivers is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. For more information on road safety and driving, visit our road safety page.

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It’s illegal in England and Wales to drive with legal drugs in your body if it impairs your driving. It’s an offence to drive if you have over the specified limits of certain drugs in your blood and you haven’t been prescribed them. For more information on road safety, visit our road safety page.

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The minimum penalty for speeding is a £100 fine and 3 penalty points added to your licence. If the case goes to court, fines and penalty points can vary. For more information on road safety and driving, visit our road safety page.

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For cars and vans, the minimum tyre tread depth is 1.6mm and for motorbikes and heavy goods vehicles the minimum tyre tread depth is 1mm.  For more information on tyre treads and how to check yours visit our road safety page

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Wearing high quality personal protective equipment whilst riding will reduce the risk of you being killed or seriously injured on the road. For more information on biking safety, as well as details of our ‘Biker Down’ safety programme, visit our road safety page.

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You need to get the right seat for your child’s weight and height and check that it’s fitted correctly for every journey. There are different types, and some only suit certain cars, so make sure you get yours checked by a professional. For more information on child car seats visit our road safety page.

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Safety

On every journey, always wear a helmet as it will protect your head, significantly reducing the risk of you being killed or seriously injured in the event of an RTC. Visit our road safety page for more details cycling safety advice.

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We can only extinguish bonfires if the fire is either out of control, unattended or generally is causing a danger to people or property. If you believe this is the case, please dial 999, ask for fire, and pass the details to us.

If the fire is not out of control or unattended and you want to complain about smoke or environmental nuisance, you would need to speak to your council. The links to each council’s relevant page for bonfires/air pollution reporting can be found below:

Birmingham City Council
Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council
Walsall Council
Dudley Council
Wolverhampton Council
Sandwell Council
Coventry Council

For further guidance on bonfires, please see our garden safety page.

 

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Alcohol can impair a driver’s reaction time, coordination and judgement of speed and distance. In England and Wales, the alcohol limit for drivers is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. For more information on road safety and driving, visit our road safety page.

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It’s illegal in England and Wales to drive with legal drugs in your body if it impairs your driving. It’s an offence to drive if you have over the specified limits of certain drugs in your blood and you haven’t been prescribed them. For more information on road safety, visit our road safety page.

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The minimum penalty for speeding is a £100 fine and 3 penalty points added to your licence. If the case goes to court, fines and penalty points can vary. For more information on road safety and driving, visit our road safety page.

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For cars and vans, the minimum tyre tread depth is 1.6mm and for motorbikes and heavy goods vehicles the minimum tyre tread depth is 1mm.  For more information on tyre treads and how to check yours visit our road safety page

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Wearing high quality personal protective equipment whilst riding will reduce the risk of you being killed or seriously injured on the road. For more information on biking safety, as well as details of our ‘Biker Down’ safety programme, visit our road safety page.

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0
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You need to get the right seat for your child’s weight and height and check that it’s fitted correctly for every journey. There are different types, and some only suit certain cars, so make sure you get yours checked by a professional. For more information on child car seats visit our road safety page.

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