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With boating taking place on many waterways in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes, Beaconsfield White Watch was keen to add its support to Boat Fire Safety Week (29 May to 4 June 2023).

The crew visited two local marina’s with the hope of interacting with people living or working on boats in the area. They also spoke to anyone who had hired a boat for leisure activities, as well as those simply enjoying the local waterways.

Gavin Darvell, Watch Commander for Beaconsfield White Watch which leads on water safety for the Station, said before the visits:

“If you are using a boat, it’s important you are aware of how to keep yourself and others safe. During Boat Fire Safety Week we will be taking our rescue boat, along with smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms and leaflets, down to the river and our local marina’s.

“We are hoping to speak to anyone that uses boats; so, that will include people hiring for a holiday or weekend break, as well as those who live on boats permanently, or work on them.

“Our aim is to raise awareness of ways to reduce the risk of being affected by carbon monoxide poisoning, as well as our core Float to Live water safety advice. – so if you are in the area please do stop and say hello!”

Fire safety advice for those on boats:

Anna Ditta, our Community Safety Co-ordinator for the South Bucks area, said:

“Sadly fires can spread quickly on a boat, and have devastating consequences. Boats are often in remote locations with difficult access, and this can result in firefighters taking longer to arrive at an incident, allowing a fire to destroy a boat and everything onboard.

“Even a moderate-sized boat can carry significant quantities of diesel, LPG and petrol. These fuels, combined with materials such as wood and glass-reinforced-plastic, and a number of sources of heat including engines, electrics and solid fuel stoves, pose a real risk.

“Our key messages are that you should fit suitable alarms, make an action plan so that you can escape in the event of a fire, understand the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and take extreme care when refuelling or changing gas cylinders.

“Records show that exhaust emissions from portable generators, and problems with solid fuel stoves and flue pipes, pose the biggest carbon monoxide risks.”

“It is for this reason that we are keen to urge the boating population – particularly people who live on their boats – to check that their boats are equipped with the correct safety equipment. This includes having working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.

Our top boat fire safety tips are:

  • Fit suitable smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to help keep you and your crew safe
  • Regularly check and maintain your boat’s fuel, gas and electrical systems – if you smell gas or petrol, act immediately
  • Never leave your cooking unattended – turn it off until you come back
  • Refuel portable petrol engines and/or portable tanks ashore – never onboard
  • Never leave combustible items like soft furnishings, furniture or drying fabrics, too close or above a solid fuel appliance
  • Keep the cabin well-ventilated to avoid build-up of poisonous carbon monoxide
  • Make and agree an emergency plan with everyone on board before you set out
  • If in doubt, don’t fight a fire yourself.  Get out, stay out and wait for the fire and rescue service.

The crew visited:

  • Bourne End Marina, Bourne End, Bucks, SL8 5RR during the day on Thursday (1 June 2023)
  • Harleyford Marina, Henley Road, Marlow, Bucks, SL7 2DX during Saturday evening (3 June 2023).
Beaconsfield water rescue boat and crew out on the river, with tree lined background.

The crew are planning more visits to the marinas and local waterways over the summer, so if you happen to see them do stop to say hello.

Following tragic deaths in the water over the last few years in the Thames Valley, Thames Valley Police, Buckinghamshire and Royal Berkshire fire and rescue services, the Environment Agency, South Central Ambulance Service, Buckinghamshire Council and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead have all been working together with the aim of warning and informing residents of how to stay safe by the water, particularly with young people who often head to the water side when schools are closed.

Partnership working:

As a partnership, we are thrilled to be working with Olympic swimmer Tom Dean MBE on this important topic. This week a short water safety video is being shared across the Thames Valley that features Tom and includes advice around safe open water swimming, the dangers of jumping from bridges and what to do if you find yourself in trouble in the water.

In 2022, there were 151 accidental drownings in England. 60% of these happened at inland waters like we have across the Thames Valley (Statistics from the National Water Safety Forum)

Tom is a double Olympic gold medallist, winning gold individually in 200 metre freestyle and as part of a team in 4 × 200 m freestyle relay at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. He grew up in Maidenhead and is very passionate about the issue of water safety having lived near the Jubilee Flood Relief Channel, a popular open water spot in Berkshire.

The video will be played in schools:

The video will be played on school buses covering the area around the Jubilee Flood Relief Channel and school inputs on water safety will be delivered by fire and rescue services in the final half term of the school year.

Over the summer, all agencies will be participating in joint patrols of the riverside and running a number of safety events on hot, sunny days when these areas are busiest.

Stuart Grosse, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service Group Commander and lead officer for water safety, said:

“We hope the tips within this video help raise awareness of ways young people can keep themselves, their mates, and others safe should they find themselves near any stretch of open water.

“This new initiative, playing the video on school busses and in classroom visits, allows us to share transferable information with a key audience. The advice provided about cold-water shock, how to float to live, and what you can do to help if you see someone struggling in water, can be applied whether you are by a river, lake or even a beach.

“Our hope is that those watching this video won’t ever be in a situation where they need to draw on it, but should the situation arise, they will be able to draw on the contents and in doing so, increase the chances of a life being saved.”

From today, firefighters across Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service will begin wearing new breathing apparatus (BA) sets, the vital life-preserving equipment which is almost as iconic and recognisable as the fire engines themselves!

The roll out of the Interspiro sets form part of our ongoing commitment to ensure our crews have the best equipment, to enable them to provide the best response to our communities.

BA was worn by BFRS firefighters at more than 450 incidents in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes (1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023) and is one of the key pieces of equipment used by firefighters when responding to emergency incidents.

The 156 new sets, made up of body-shaped shoulder straps, hip belt, backplate and oxygen cylinders are used alongside supporting equipment to ensure firefighters can breathe when tackling fires or entering hazardous environments.

The supporting equipment also rolled out today includes:

  • 400 personal issue facemasks made from the latest, technologically advanced chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear certified material.
  • 394 nine litre, 300 bar working pressure (WP), air cylinders of composite construction with a non-metallic liner, quick connect adapters and covers.
  • 37 telemetry enabled entry control boards (ECBs), with new covers and tripods which enable crews to monitor progress and welfare of those wearing BA.
  • 170 bluetooth communication system which enables those wearing BA to communicate clearly with each other, with a casualty at a scene, and with officers outside the incident wirelessly.

The contract with Interspiro is part of a wider Thames Valley Collaboration which aims to deliver full interoperability at incident grounds across Thames Valley.

As the country enters into another period of extreme heat, the Met Office has issued a Level 5 Exceptional Fire Severity Warning for parts of Buckinghamshire this weekend (13/14 August 2022).

The Fire Severity Index (FSI) does not indicate the risk of a fire occurring, but the likely severity of any fire which does occur in an area at that time. It is based upon wind speed, temperature, time of year and rainfall. It has 5 levels:

  • FSI level 1 = low fire severity
  • FSI level 2 = moderate fire severity
  • FSI level 3 = high fire severity
  • FSI level 4 = very high fire severity
  • FSI level 5 = exceptional fire severity

Already this month, Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service (BFRS) has attended multiple field fires, including those at Foscott, Marlow Bottom (pictured), Mursley, Penn and Lane End.

The Met Office has issued an amber warning for extreme heat, lasting from midnight on Thursday, 11 August until 11.59pm on Sunday, 14 August.

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service (BFRS) would like to remind residents on warm weather safety advice and how to keep themselves and others safe during heatwaves.

We have already seen high volumes of demand this summer. We are asking our communities to help reduce the risk of fire during this prolonged period of high temperatures and dry weather by avoiding using naked flames in the open wherever possible.

Additional safety advice for hot weather is: