20 November 2012 by Graham Ellicott,

I travelled with trepidation to Wrightington Hospital near Wigan on Friday and made sure that my sideburns were long and bushy so as to give me the best chance of survival.

You may ask, why the worry? Well, being a cycling fanatic I had noted that poor old Bradley Wiggins had been knocked off his bicycle near Wrightington just over a week before my visit. He apparently was a victim of SMIDSY.

Indeed, a ‘yummy mummy’ driving some enormous gas guzzling, off road in Sainsbury’s car park, vehicle with bull bars tried to drive through me the other week and seemed somewhat upset when I questioned her intellectual ability and parentage!

As to the sideburns, Bradley reportedly had shaved off his lucky ones only days before the accident. I was taking no chances and had invested in some extra fake stick on ones just in case the people I was going to see took against me as a ‘soft southerner’ venturing that far north.

I was re-visiting Wrightington to speak again at the North West Branch of NAHFO’s Annual Fire Safety Seminar which was entitled ‘The Procurement of Fire Safety’. As one of many speakers, I had time on my hands after my presentation to discuss the state of the fire world which is arguably, in England and Wales, going through its highest level of change for many years.

Over lunch, talking to many people more knowledgeable than I, it became apparent that there is a real concern from Health Fire Officers regarding inconsistencies from the Fire and Rescue Services  in enforcement and in attendance policies for automatic fire alarms. These concerns are compounded by lack of budget in the health sector to deal with some of the problems that arise particularly with regard to false alarms, and the ability to have an effect on the cause of the problem when there is no effective line management chain of command.

But not all the blame can be taken by Fire and Rescue, the trade needs to step up its efforts here to help drive down the level of false alarms by working with the affected organisation to get to the bottom of their particular problem(s). The extra use of Third Party Certificated companies will also, in my opinion, help immensely with this problem.

The presentations at Wrightington were interesting, if somewhat alarming, especially the one on questionable cables and their ‘low’ copper contents which could mean vastly reduced lifetimes;  the ability to check for this type of cable on buildings is very difficult. If you’re interested in this I’d encourage you to gain more information in general.

In an effort to avoid the yummy mummies and their male counterparts I’d used public transport to get to and from the seminar. The fake sideburns gave great amusement to the four year old sat opposite me on the train back to the ‘soft south’. I considered leaving them with her but realised I’d be confronting SMIDSY again the next day without the time buy or fabricate another pair so caution replaced altruism – it was ever thus for the threatened MAMIL