A life-sized plastic horse was lying on its side surrounded by fully-kitted fire officers when I arrived for the launch of the Essex Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Roger Hirst’s first Fire and Rescue Plan for Essex at the beginning of March.
The plan has been developed in partnership with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) employees, representatives from local authorities, Essex Police and the Ambulance Service. Its eight priorities include enhancing prevention, protection and response, helping the vulnerable to stay safe, improve safety on our roads and to develop and broaden the roles and range of activities undertaken by the service.
This is the first plan of its kind produced by a Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner and is a landmark for fire governance not only in Essex but for the whole country. I would expect nothing less from Roger who, in October 2017, took on the governance of ECFRS alongside his existing responsibilities for Essex Police.
Fire officers tend to only be noticed at times of high profile incidents involving major fires or significant rescues. But the day to day work they do in identifying risks and effective prevention, emergency planning and specialist rescue and response training is the bedrock of the service and makes Essex a far safer place to live, work and travel. The full plan can be found at http://www.essex-fire.gov.uk/
But what of the prone plastic horse? It was being used to illustrate the background rescue skills in which the ECFRS specialises. Essex is a county of horse enthusiasts, and from time to time their equine friends get stuck in ditches and thick mud. With the help of a large lifting device and a series of supporting straps the plastic horse was gently hoisted to its feet, to general applause from onlookers. It’s good to know the Essex Fire and Rescue Service is ready for almost any eventuality, be it humans or animals needing help.