Staff honoured at our Recognition Awards 2019

Firefighters, service support staff and volunteers were honoured at our Recognition Awards 2019. Gathered at West Bromwich Albion’s football ground, guests heard inspirational stories of firefighting excellence, service to our communities and personal achievement.



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Published on 22 November 2019

Firefighters, service support staff and volunteers were honoured at our Recognition Awards 2019. Gathered at West Bromwich Albion’s football ground, guests heard inspirational stories of firefighting excellence, service to our communities and personal achievement.Phil Loach, our Chief Fire Officer, thanked the recipients for helping to make the West Midlands safer, stronger and healthier.

He said: “Tonight provides just a snapshot of what West Midlands Fire Service is about. A lot of our work is recognised nationally.

“Work such as we’re celebrating tonight is going on all the time. Staff throughout our organisation are making a difference and saving people’s lives through their emergency response, prevention and protection work.”

Councillor Greg Brackenridge, Chair of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “West Midlands Fire Service is recognised as one of the very best in the UK, and UK fire and rescue services are held in high regard around the globe. Tonight we celebrate the best of the best.

“West Midlands Fire Service was the only service in the UK to receive an outstanding grade for response in recent inspections – and this could not have been without the dedication, commitment and professionalism of all of our employees.”

We’re extremely grateful to the event’s generous sponsors.

40-year Service Award
Julie Connor- Strategic Hub, HQ
Firefighter (Control) Jane Gummery – Fire Control, HQ
Colin Patrick – Fire Safety

Extrication Challenge 
Highgate Fire Station: Watch Commander Joe Poynton; Crew Commander Bryan Campbell; Firefighters John Conway, James Hulin, Daniel Sperry, Sahfan Khan and Sam Blanche.

Breathing Apparatus Challenge 
Watch Commander Steven Gibson, Firefighter Susanna Clarke (Hay Mills Fire Station) and Firefighter Jason Plant (Northfield).

Breathing Apparatus Brigade Response Vehicle Challenge
Hay Mills Fire Station: Watch Commander Steven Gibson; Firefighters Rakim Smith and Howard Hylton.

Best Breathing Apparatus Team
Watch Commander Steven Gibson – Hay Mills Fire Station. (Steve’s BA team partner is currently on a career break)

Trauma Challenge
Highgate Fire Station: Crew Commander Bryan Campbell and Firefighter Sahfan Khan.

Incident Command
Watch Commander Mark Woodward, Organisational Learning and People Development (OLPD).

Highgate also won Station of the Year for getting the most awards for challenges!

Most Inspirational Award
Station Commander Warren Davies, Walsall Fire Station
For his work over the past 10 years as the driving force behind the West Midlands Fire Service boxing team, including raising thousands of pounds for disabled children from boxing events.

Group Commander Steve Harris, OLPD
For inspirational leadership in diversity, understanding, communication and people skills. Steve is also a role model in his personal drive for growth, the dynamics of people and their social-interaction and thinking. He tirelessly commits to causes to support others, such as via post-incident debriefing procedures.

Watch Commander Yvette Greenhouse, Crew Commander Michael Hawksby  and Firefighter Ella Bowkley – Oldbury Fire Station. For their work, following a Safe and Well visit, helping a resident clear their home of large amounts of combustible material and freeing-up escape routes. They gave up a lot of time to help and support the individual as well as making referrals to partner agencies.

Staff Recognition Awards

Firefighter John McPherson (Coventry) and Firefighter Matthew Abley (Aldridge) for their actions when they were confronted by a woman with a knife who was suffering from mental health issues. They put their own lives in danger to protect and keep her safe until handing her into the care of the appropriate authorities.

Crew Commander Bryan Campbell (Highgate) for his tireless enthusiasm and drive for excellence in encouraging participation in brigade, regional and national challenges/competitions. His tireless passion has meant that his trauma and extrication teams have come top in regional challenges at the Emergency Service Show, despite some strong and experienced competition.

Watch Commander James Grove (OLPD). As our ‘lead’ on hazardous materials and environmental protection, Jim committed himself to the research, identification and delivery of the most effective and efficient ‘hazmat’ training package. He is recognised nationally and internationally as a subject matter expert. His personal commitment to post-incident firefighter hygiene see fire and rescue services from across the world looking to us for the most innovative solutions to protecting our workforce. He is a National DIM Adviser (detection, identification and monitoring) and National CBRN Tactical Adviser.

Saty Nar (Fire Safety) for his wide range of work that benefits our organisation and communities. He works with the Sikh Council to help Gurdwaras comply with fire safety and supports the Muslim community through the Birmingham Council of Mosques. He is also part of the National Fire Chiefs Council’s Protection Programme and a prominent member and advocate of the Asian Fire Service Association (AFSA). He is a volunteer for Midland Langar Seva charity, and gives out smoke detectors to protect people who sleep rough in dangerous buildings. He has also been instrumental in organising free first aid training for community members.

Firefighter Michael Attwood (Technical Rescue Unit), for his dedication in training and grading a UK search dog (Cara) within just eight months of getting her. He voluntarily took on the role of being the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) dog handler for the Technical Rescue Unit. Mick has invested a significant amount of his own time in training Cara to the necessary level.

Engagement and Partnership Award

Watch Commander Michael McKay (Ward End), for his partnership work with Heartlands Hospital focusing on ‘slips, trips and falls’ patients who are at higher risk of fire at home.

Crew Commander John Williams (Billesley) for his work with ‘Dogs for Good’ who create partnerships between people living with disabilities and specially-trained assistance dogs.

Outstanding Contribution

Fire Investigation and Prevention Section: Watch Commanders James Holder, Leigh Richards, Lea McDonald (Retired), Jason Dean, Luke Beckett; dog handler Mat Dixon. For their work making the West Midlands safer, much of it sensitive and confidential. They deal with the aftermath of difficult and challenging incidents, liaising with attending crews, family members, professionals and carers. They also contribute to serious incident reviews and work with partners agencies to prevent future incidents and reduce fire risk. They have a key role in the reduction of arson and work closely with police and criminal justice colleagues on this.

Fire Control: Watch Commanders (Control) Jayne Reynolds and Jayne Mason; Crew Commanders (Control) Justine Lewis and Denise McNulty; Firefighters (Control) Ann-Marie Harper, Debbie Kitchener and Jane Gummery. In the space of just eight shifts, members of Fire Control Blue Watch managed incidents which involved ten fatalities across Staffordshire and West Midlands. They demonstrated true professionalism and resilience by continuing to receive 999 calls, mobilise to incidents and receive information from the scene, regardless of how they were feeling personally.

Stourbridge Fire Station: Watch Commander Adam Bonnell; Crew Commander Nick Dunne; Firefighters Steve Hodgetts, Adam Massey, Zoe Taylor and Jon Lane. For their outstanding support of Mary Stevens Hospice for which they have raised in the region of £50,000, as well as raising funds to provide two community defibrillators.

Operational Excellence

Binley Fire Station: Crew Commander Danny O’Keeffe; Firefighters Ben Moorcroft, Philip Price, Martin Smith and Matthew Budd. For their actions in extremely challenging circumstances following reports that a man was about to commit suicide.

Station Commander Simon Woodward (Haden Cross); Watch Commander Jamie Beckett and Crew Commander Alan Attwood (Woodgate Valley); Watch Commander Gary Smith, Crew Commander Christopher Tranter, Firefighters Robert Murphy, Martyn Smith and Peter Eglin (Bournbrook). For their life-saving actions at the scene of a road traffic collision. A casualty was in a critical condition and, as they awaited the arrival of ambulance colleagues, the crews carried out a rapid extrication, began life support and made ready a defibrillator. An oropharyngeal airway was also fitted. The casualty was shocked three times and his heart restarted.

Aston Fire Station: Watch Commander Paul Johnson; Firefighters Suraj Salan, Peter Bhatti, David Cooper and Samuel Beech. For their prompt actions when faced with an immediate risk to the life of a six-year-old who was on the pitched roof of a three-storey building, and also for ensuring the safety of the child’s father.

Special Mentions
A number of ‘special mentions’ were made throughout the night, including one for several of our staff who have supported national deployments to widespread floods in Whaley Bridge, Skegness and – earlier this month – South Yorkshire.