Working in partnership with Wycombe Homeless Connection

Sun 14 Dec, 2014

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service is working with Wycombe Homeless Connection (WHC) to help it finalise its plans for seven shelters, which open in High Wycombe next month.

The charity, which is organised and supported by High Wycombe churches, serves around 300 single adult individuals each year. The winter night shelters will open every evening from 2 January to 31 March 2015, providing a warm shower, an evening meal, a good night’s sleep and an early morning breakfast before closing down each day. 

Following meetings with representatives including Steve Baker, MP for Wycombe, who is a volunteer with WHC, and Dr Sheena Dykes, WHC Chairman, two inspecting officers from Marlow Fire Station visited all seven sites.

Watch Manager Darren Knowles said: “Each venue is unique in terms its age and the risks it presents. Some date back hundreds of years, while others are more recent. 

“They were not designed to provide temporary shelter to homeless individuals, so the fire risk management and assessment has to be carefully planned. 

During the visits, Darren and Station Manager Andrew Walker gave general advice and support to Operations Manager James Boultbee and David Winder, one of WHC's trustees, to help them make sure everyone using the shelters would be able to make a safe exit in the event of a fire. Issues they talked about included the importance of:

  • Shift leaders and volunteers understanding the procedure to follow should the fire alarm panels sound.
  • Certain doors being kept closed to protect escape routes, particularly staircases.
  • Volunteer workers using torches where there is limited or no emergency lighting.

Darren said: “Overall, we were very impressed with how Wycombe Homeless Connection has organised this coming year’s project. We will be available to help further with the fire risk management, assessment and business continuity arrangements as required.”

The visits took place during this month’s UK Businesses Safety Week, an initiative organised by the Chief Fire Officers’ Association. The awareness week encouraged businesses and voluntary and community sector organisations to engage with local fire and rescue services to help manage their fire risk.

Pictured left to right at the top of the page are David Winder, Andrew Walker, Dr Sheena Dykes, Darren Knowles and Steve Baker MP.

Click here to find out more about Wycombe Homeless Connection.