08 April 2014 by Graham Ellicott, Previous FIA CEO

Do any of you remember Drop the Dead Donkey? It was a TV programme that aired between 1990 and 1998 so I guess you’d probably need to be at least in your mid-thirties to be familiar with it. The writers of the show (Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin) allegedly made up the title of the show as the sort of thing that would have been shouted in the TV News Control Room when a late breaking story would be scheduled in to replace something less newsworthy, in this case a Dead Donkey!

But what has this to do with fire? Well having charged around the Hampshire countryside recently for 3 or 4 hours or so on a Sunday on my bike I returned to find a ‘phone message from let’s say Radio Borsetshire asking for me to call them which I duly did to find that they wanted views on the change to Borsetshire Fire and Rescue’s automatic fire alarm attendance policy. So having given then my views I thought that I was booked to appear by early morning ‘phone call on the Breakfast Show along with other interested stakeholders in the change to Borsetshire’s downgrading of service to the commercial estate.

Imagine me on the Breakfast Show as the Dave Nice to Borsetshire’s Mike Smash (another 1990s bit of media here for the discerning listener/reader!) – delusions of grandeur started to set in and I thought this is something from the fire world that I can relate to my grandchildren – as I don’t think the general run of the mill fodder from this fascinating sector will stand the test of time!

So the very next day I’m up early in the day and listening to the dulcet tones of Radio Borsetshire’s Mike Smash plus his zoo (is that still the term for the gang of people that chip in the ‘interesting’ stuff?) and they mention Borsetshire Fire and Rescue’s automatic fire alarm attendance policy. They then cut straight to a woman of a certain height who ‘phoned in to comment that the bloke on her most recent date was smaller than her (he denies this apparently…) and did Mike Smash and the attendant zoo think this a good idea- well ten minutes later I still wasn’t sure whether they did or not. Having listened to the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy again on the radio last Saturday I thought to myself where’s Douglas Adams when you need him as the contrast of the two radio items couldn’t have been more stark - I know which one I thought the greater contribution to the media!

To be fair to Mike Smash he did manage to call one stakeholder but they didn’t seem to know much if anything about Borsetshire’s attendance policy and then we were on to the weather plus other stuff chucked in by the zoo!

So the moment my grandchildren had been waiting for passed and there was no ‘phonecall - I was the Dead Donkey (been called worse in the past) that was dropped for an apparently tall woman – it comes to something in my opinion when a difference in height is thought more important than a news item concerning fire!

Of course I may have this all wrong and it could be that Mike Smash has heard me on the radio before and thought that I was so dire that my comments would be scary for small animals, children and certain fire chiefs? But all is not lost as I’m about to make an application to join Mike Smash’s zoo as they don’t have a donkey plus I’m 300mm taller than my wife...