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Greg Preston, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service

A microwave fire prompts professional curiosity

Having just removed my expertly overcooked porridge from the microwave has reminded me of a recent story.

One of our crews attended a fire alarm sounding which turned out to be overcooked food in a microwave so damaged it could no longer be safely used. The elderly couple had multiple vulnerabilities which meant reliance on home delivered pre-prepared meals. Having no microwave meant no hot food until their son could provide a new one a week or so later. The fire crew felt that they could not leave the couple in that position, so they made a cause for concern referral. By lunchtime we had received a call back to say a new microwave had been delivered.

All in a days work maybe for some, but for our crews it was a timely reminder that no matter how big or small the “S” of safeguarding, their professional curiosity and the confidence to express their concerns when they feel something is wrong can and does make a difference.

Safeguarding is a very big topic for Norfolk Fire & Rescue (NF&R) right now, with a number of developments ongoing. We are currently refreshing our safeguarding training for all staff, with our team of instructors undergoing their training at the end of March. Case studies such as that above will really help embed this training by giving practical examples of making a difference. Along with updated training, we have recently reviewed and refreshed our internal referral mechanism to ensure a consistent processing of safeguarding concerns in a timely manner. Our duty Group Manager team who provide 24 hour cover now quality assure all outgoing concerns and provide a point of contact for ongoing case dialogue.

The recent launch of a new National Fire Standard for Safeguarding has given us a lot to think about and we are about to commence our Gap Analysis process to measure ourselves against these national expectations. We are planning a workshop soon with our 5 regional Fire and Rescue partner services to benchmark our best practice and to consider how we can work collaboratively on our ongoing QA processes.

Closer working with the safeguarding adult board’s LSAP`s is something we are planning and with this in mind, we are increasing the size of our Prevention team. We are recruiting four new district Prevention Coordinator roles and a team manager, to provide us additional capacity for multi-agency working. I think these will be really exciting roles so please watch this space for adverts and share them with those colleagues and friends you feel would be interested.

Finally, NF&R know that keeping vulnerable people safe is a complex matter and that the wider we can share the knowledge of what good looks like, the more chance we have of achieving this. Last month saw us launch a partnership project with NCC Integrated Quality Service, aimed at engaging the numerous domiciliary care agencies in the county in enhanced Fire Risk Assessment training. Designed to ensure all those visiting vulnerable persons from these agencies have an awareness of how to spot potential fire risks and how to mitigate them, this training is being offered free of charge, with an associated support package from Fire and Rescue. Our launch meeting has already received positive interest from a good number of providers, and we will be offering this out further over the coming months.

If you would like to find out more about how to access this FREE training please do email me – gregor.preston@norfolk.gov.uk

Best regards

Greg Preston

Area Manager - Head of Prevention, Protection & Emergency Planning

Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service