01 November 2011 by Graham Ellicott, Previous FIA CEO

On Friday (18th November) I attended the NHS Fire Safety Seminar in Wigan which was organised by the National Association of Health Fire Officers.

As an extreme sufferer from 'white coat syndrome' I usually cross the road when I see the A&E sign but on Friday the car dragged me to Wrightington Hospital. On passing the gate I offered up my usual hope that I’d get out alive. Indeed, to compensate for my raised blood pressure I try to think of Krankenhaus (German for hospital) as the name amuses me (although not as much as Rathaus for town hall!) and that somewhat relaxes the diastolic systolic ratio to a level below that which might cause a stroke!

I was first to speak at the seminar so the raised blood pressure and accompanying adrenaline rush helped me get to my feet and tear into two of my favourite subjects; the Localism Bill and the lack of consistency of the English Fire and Rescue Services.

Speaking after me was Phil Toase of BAFE who gave the audience an update regarding Third Party Certification schemes, their benefits and new developments.

Following on was John Judd who looked at the False Alarms situation and he, in my opinion, hit the nail on the head by using previous Government Research to prove that charging for false alarms will not drive down their incidence. Both John and Phil (ex-senior fire officers) gave the audience the impression that they were distinctly uncomfortable with the non-attendance policies at automatic fire alarms of some fire and rescue services.

Simon and David from First County Monitoring followed and succinctly described the role of the Alarm Receiving Centre and reinforced the call for consistency of approach when it comes to automatic fire alarm attendance by fire and rescue services.

Mike Hall from Salford Royal Hospitals brought us all down to earth and reminded us that hospitals are about saving lives and with 12,000 fire devices in a hospital, there will be alarm activations, some of which are unavoidable! Mike is a passionate man and if you ever meet him ask him about the Christmas trees in the atrium and the part that toast plays in patient care –it certainly opened my eyes!

The seminar was wrapped up by James Marsden who brought his customary insight and pragmatic approach to all matters fire which made me wonder why I can’t be as relaxed as he is!

The seminar over, I realise that I’ve survived and I wonder, as ever, when I leave a Krankenhaus what was all the fuss about; then I think about the lack of consistency amongst the English Feuerwehr and that blood pressure starts to rise again…