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Keen to raise awareness of how we can all stay safe on the rivers, the Beaconsfield crew will join colleagues from Thames Valley Police and Buckinghamshire Council Community Safety Team on the banks of the Jubilee River, for the next two Water Safety Events planned this summer.

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

“Our specially trained water rescue crew will be out on our boat as much as possible over the coming weeks to help raise awareness of how to stay safe around the river.

“Sadly, in recent years we have experienced deaths in the water in Thames Valley. These tragic situations impact significantly on families and communities, but they also impact on those from the emergency services and partner agencies who are called to respond as life savers.

“It is our belief that no life should be lost to the water from avoidable situations, so we are working with our partners from across Thames Valley to engage with those who visit our waters. The aim of these three partnership events is to engage with the local community, and river users, and share with them how they can keep themselves and others safe around water.”

Timing:

These collaborative events are timed to align with the onset of post-exam free time for students and summer holidays. The Beaconsfield crew are aware that during times of good weather the number of young people venturing out to our local rivers increases.

The second of the three joint events planned for this summer will take place on the Jubilee River, (Lake End Road side) on Thursday 17 August (2023). The third is scheduled for Thursday 24 August (2023) on the Jubilee River, (Mill Lane side).

Group Commander Grosse added:

“Both events will run from 2pm to 5pm, please do come along to see our crew and talk to the teams for safety information and advice!”

Timely:

Being by the river has already proved to be useful for the Beaconsfield crew. On one afternoon in June, in the space of just 10 minutes, they learned of two potentially serious incidents happening to swimmers on the Thames.

Watch Commander Gavin Darvell, of Beaconsfield White Watch, explained:

“We’d gone to Spade Oak in Bourne End to do some water rescue training and give people advice on boats. When we arrived, we saw numerous school-age people in the water.

“They were obviously enjoying the warm weather, however it was concerning to us, as the area is not a designated open water swim area.

“Two boys approached us to ask what we were doing. We explained we were training, and then asked them what they were doing by the river. They explained they had been swimming in the river with a larger group of boys, when one of the pair got into trouble.”

Be #Waterwise:

Watch Commander Darvell continued:

“Luckily his friend was able to rescue him and calm him down. Once they had both reached dry land safely, we sat with them for a while to make sure they were ok, using the time to give them advice on float to live, the dangers of tombstoning, and the risks of being hit by boats while swimming from side to side on the Thames – all the advice shared by Tom Dean MBE, in our collaborative Be #WaterWise video.

“Shortly after that we met a couple who were mooring their boat and learned of a narrow escape that they had just experienced in Marlow, where a swimmer had swum across the river Infront of their boat.

“We are keen to get water safety messages out to anyone who plans to visit the river, but especially to those who have teenagers in their household, or know people who do!

“Please help us to help them Be #WaterWise this summer, and share our key messages to help people stay safe around our rivers, lakes and canals.”

Our key water safety messages:

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.

The members of our specially trained water rescue crews are keen to share their water safety tips with you and will be taking the rescue boat on tour as they get out and about on the river this summer!

Jubilee River has already hosted two of our crews. Beaconsfield Blue Watch attended the Taplow stretch on Saturday 2 July, and Beaconsfield Green Watch joined colleagues from Slough Fire Station, on Sunday 3 July, at Chalvey Community Partnership’s canoeing and river safety event (pictured below).

Firefighters provided water safety advice to the public

Organised as part of its monthly Chalvey Activity Food and Fun (CAFF) club, the family fun day saw more than 70 people from the local community attend. Many stopped to say hello to our specially trained water rescue crew, view their rescue boat, and learnt how to stay safe in and around the water this summer.

Alex Mason, Beaconsfield Green Watch Commander, said: “All bodies of water like rivers, canals, and reservoirs have hidden risks, even to the most experienced swimmers. Younger people can often be tempted to take a dip in our rivers. However many are unaware of the potential dangers that the waters offer such as hidden currents or reeds beneath the surface which could pull you under.”

Safety first

Sharing safety messages with young people and their families before they get in the water is a key objective of the Beaconsfield crews.

Alex continued: “We were able to hand out plenty of age-appropriate information for the audience we were hoping to capture at this event and are looking to attend more, incident permitting, over the coming months.

“This event provided us with a great opportunity to work collaboratively across the fire service border. It’s kick-started what we hope will become more regular joint community safety work moving forward.”

Meet the team

The crews have further events planned on Jubilee River and the Thames throughout the summer.

Beaconsfield Station Commander, Stuart Grosse said: “Our aim this summer is to interact as much as possible with anyone who enjoys getting out and about on the rivers, or in open water, in our area.

“We are keen to help people see there are ways to enjoy our rivers, lakes, and canals safely and help them understand why it is so important to respect the water and be aware of the potential dangers it can hold.

“Sadly, there are occasions where people do get into water-related difficulties, so something else our specially trained water rescue crews are looking to share with local residents and businesses, as well as river visitors, is how best to deal with these situations if they do happen.”

The plan is for the Rescue Boat and its crews to attend riverside locations within our area over the coming weeks.

Please see dates and locations below.

More dates will be added over the Summer, so pop back from time to time to find out when they will be in your area – they’re keen to meet you!

Sharing burn awareness information is even more important to firefighters in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes this year – as many of our typical autumn celebrations are likely to look slightly different.

With many public organised events being cancelled this year, celebrating safely at home, is going to be a key message from emergency services.

Over the coming weeks you will see lots of messages from us, as well as from your local authority which will be keeping you up to date on the latest COVID-19 control measures in your area.

Community Safety Manager, Joanne Cook, said: “Candles and fireworks both have the potential to cause burns, and are common features through the late autumn period, often being used during events around Halloween (Saturday 31 October), Bonfire night (Thursday 5 November) and Diwali (Saturday 14 November).

“Being burned or scalded can mean years of painful treatment and, in the worst cases, hundreds of operations to release the scar tissue. While things like candles and fireworks have a high profile at this time of year, it can be easy to overlook how simple measures can help reduce the risk of getting burnt when distracted in the home.”

Burns can also be caused by more standard household items, such as hot drinks, bathing or washing up water, irons, hair straighteners, and even some household cleaners.

Joanne added: “Many people don’t realise that children and older people are the most vulnerable to burns and scalds, and the majority of injuries occur as a result of an accident that could so easily have been prevented.

“We are also keen to help raise awareness that however the burn occurs simple, quick and appropriate treatment can make a massive difference to someone’s life. Please keep reading this item to find out the best way to treat a burn or scald, from our colleagues at the specialist burns unit at Stoke Mandeville”

Joanne’s safety tips to help avoid a burn or scald in the home:

DO

  • Install smoke alarms on each floor and test regularly
  • Keep hot drinks out of reach of babies and young children
  • Make and practise fire escape plans with the whole family
  • Run COLD water first in the bath or sink before adding hot water – test the temperature
  • Install thermostatic mixing valves in all hot water outlets
  • Keep saucepans at the back of the stove, NOT near the front – turn handles to the back
  • Keep kettles, irons, hair straighteners or wires out of reach
  • Keep secure fire screens in front of open fires, heaters and radiators
  • Store matches and lighters out of reach
  • Store chemicals, cleaners and acids out of reach

DON’T

  • Drink hot drinks while nursing/holding a baby or child
  • Put a baby or child into a bath or sink until the water has been tested
  • Warm baby bottles in the microwaves
  • Leave hair straighteners unattended
  • Allow children near BBQs or garden chemicals
  • Allow children near fireworks
  • Leave children unattended in the kitchen, bathroom or near fires and heaters

Prevention of hot drink burns is easy using simple SafeTea rules:

  • Keep hot drinks out of reach of young children
  • Never carry a hot drink while carrying a baby
  • Never pass a hot drink over the heads of young children
  • Ways to keep hot drinks away from children:
  • Place hot drinks at the back of the kitchen surface
  • Don’t place a hot drink on a table cloth or cloth that hangs down so that a small child can reach and pull it down
  • Make a safe place . . . a SafeTea zone for hot drinks . . . in your home where you and members of the family and visitors can keep hot drinks from young children
  • Avoid drinking hot drinks around small children
  • Always remind visitors to your home to ‘Keep hot drinks out of reach of the young children

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service is pleased to be able to add its support to National Burn Awareness Day, which helps draw attention to the fact that prevention and good first aid are key to reducing the number of burns and scalds occurring in the UK every single day.

A burn injury is for life. This image outlines the numbers of children and adults scalded or burnt  in 2019

Consultant Plastic and Burns Surgeons, Miss Alexandra Murray and Professor Fadi Issa, who both work at Stoke Mandeville Burns Unit, are keen to help highlight the importance of being burns aware.

Miss Murray said: “It’s a great time of year to raise awareness of the potential for burns, as candles, bonfires and fireworks are often at the forefront of people minds. However, burns or scalds can happen at any time and correct, swift treatment can make a big difference“.

Professor Issa said: “While anyone can suffer a burn or scald, there are some themes we see quite regularly.

– In children the principal cause of burns is scalds from things like hot cups of tea or coffee, hot baths, and contact burns for example from touching hobs.

– In adults it is often flame or flash burns from people setting things on fire with accelerants, or kitchen accidents while cooking.

– In the older age group we see quite a few hot bath burns or contact burns from radiators, particularly in those with mobility issues.

“During the covid peak we saw quite a few burns resulting from steam inhalation accidents in virtually all age groups.”

If burnt you should:

  • Promptly cool the burn under cool running water for at least twenty minutes
  • After the burn has been cooled, cover it with cling film or a clean plastic bag
  • Do not use any creams/lotions/toothpaste
  • Seek medical advice and call 999 if necessary
  • Always seek medical advice for a baby or child that has been burned

Useful links:

The next few weeks will see many young people across Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes taking their first steps towards independent living, as they move away from home and into student accommodation ready for the start of their academic year.

Along with a “Welcome” or “Welcome back” to those returning, firefighters in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes are keen to share some simple tips that could help reduce the risk of being affected by fire in your student “digs”.

Community Safety Manager, Joanne Cook, said: “We know there is a whole mountain of things that family and friends, and students themselves, have to think about and prepare for when starting, or returning to, further education – and even more this year with COVID-19 at the forefront of all our minds.

“We don’t want to add to the load, however we would like to ask you to add these messages to your take away pack, or that of your home leaver, to make sure our students stay safe as they find their feet living away from home for the first time.

“Following the tips could actually help to lighten the load, and make settling in to a new routine that little bit easier.”

Top tips to takeaway:

To reduce the risk of a fire happening in the first place, Joanne recommends that you:

  • Do not leave cooking unattended.
  • Do not cook if you have been drinking alcohol.
  • Ensure candles are in a suitable holder and keep them away from flammable surfaces or textiles.
  • Do not overload plug sockets.
  • Switch off electrical equipment such as mobile phone chargers when not in use.
  • Keep portable heaters away from curtains and furnishings and never dry clothes on them.

When it comes to “moving in”:

  • Check what the fire safety rules are – burning items like candles in rooms may be banned.
  • Pay attention to fire drills and never ignore alarms.
  • Be aware of the procedure of what to do on discovery of a fire or being alerted to a fire.
  • If you’ve spotted a fire risk or have concerns, speak to the building manager, person you pay your rent to or student ambassador.
  • If you are not satisfied with the response, you can contact the National Union of Students (NUS) for further advice.
  • Know your escape route – what is the quickest way out? Also have an alternative route in mind.
  • If a fire starts, get out, stay out and call 999.

Joanne adds: “It’s also worth knowing a little bit about the regulations for student accommodation, and checking up on the local arrangements for your accommodation.”

Legislation relating to accommodation

Any new-build or refurbished building in England & Wales, including student halls, must comply with the 2010 Building Regulations. These buildings also need to comply with the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

Providers of student accommodation blocks have a responsibility to comply with fire safety legislation and give advice to their tenants on the fire safety arrangements and procedures for their particular building.

In some building types the residents are told to evacuate the building, whilst in others, especially high rise buildings, they may have a ‘stay put’ policy.

Joanne’s final two top tips:

“As young people move into student accommodation blocks, it is essential that they know the evacuation strategy in place for their building.

“Finally, a really useful document to read through is the NUS leaflet Fire safety and high rise student accommodation. This contains information on the Grenfell Tower fire, the potential implications for students living in high rise halls, and what students and students’ unions can do to ensure student safety. It also provides contact details if you have specific queries or concerns.”