Kirklees fire & rescue solution wins national award

Release Date: 19-Jul-2011
An innovative solution to a life-threatening problem developed by a Kirklees partnership has been recognised with a major national award.
Howard Fanning & Mick Kimmings (KNH), Chris Atkinson & Nigel Craven (WYFRS), Richard Hayton (KBS)

Howard Fanning & Mick Kimmings (KNH), Chris Atkinson & Nigel Craven (WYFRS), Richard Hayton (KBS)

KNH won the ‘most effective partnership’ award at the National Federation of ALMOs awards last week for the ‘Getting in, saving lives’ project.

The project involved KNH, Kirklees Building Services, West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, lock manufacturer ABS Secure and door supplier Swan Doors working together to devise a way for rescue crews to enter homes with high security uPVC doors without breaking them down.

Previously, crews struggled to get into homes fitted with the new doors, even with heavy door breaking equipment, and around 12 officers a year were being injured in their attempts.
This meant it was taking too long to enter houses to save lives and put out fires, and replacing the doors was costing KNH thousands of pounds.

To solve these problems, the partners shared their expertise and came up with quick and simple methods of unlocking the doors rather than breaking them down. They then developed a training package that teaches firefighters to recognise and quickly unlock the doors using equipment provided by ABS Secure.

With these tools and training, firefighters can get through doors in less than 60 seconds, where before it would have taken considerably longer.

The new approach has the potential to save KNH and other housing organisations thousands of pounds a year. During a recent incident, crews entered a property within two minutes, where fortunately they found only a smouldering towel. Previously, this would have cost KNH around £1000 to replace the door. This time, the cost was a £5 replacement lock.

The joint research and testing has also enabled ABS Secure to refine its already high security product to make it one of the strongest, most secure locks on the market.

The greatest benefit, however, is the potential to save lives. The speed with which crews can now get into homes can make the difference between life and death. In addition, being able to keep the door intact greatly reduces the risk of a fire flaring up, which can threaten both householders and fire crews.

The new approach has been so successful in Kirklees that it is now being rolled out to fire and other emergency services across the country.

An independent panel of judges praised the scheme for having the potential to save housing organisations a great deal of money, but more importantly, to save lives.

Cllr David Sheard, the Kirklees cabinet member responsible for housing, said: “Congratulations to everyone involved in this project. It’s a great example of how by working together, different agencies can come up with creative solutions to problems – and in this case, save lives.”

KNH Chief Executive, Simon Rogers, said, “I’m really pleased that the innovative work being done by KNH and its partners has been recognised, not just by the award but by emergency services around the country who are now using the techniques developed in Kirklees.”

Keith Robinson, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service District Commander for Kirklees, said: "I am really proud of the joint partnership work and the effort the team has put in. We all aim to make the community of Kirklees safer and this is an excellent example of the benefits positive partnership working can achieve. Other fire and rescue services are already starting to show interest and I hope it will be taken up by them and ultimately save lives."

Designed to honour and credit the individuals and teams who do so much at ground level and beyond, the NFA awards have been developed to recognise and celebrate the hard work and achievements of ALMOs – which together manage almost one million council homes, over half of all social housing in England.

• Also recognised by the judges was Jess Cullen, who was a runner-up in the ‘most outstanding young person’ category. Jess was 17 when she began her tenancy with KNH last year, following a period of homelessness. In her short time as a tenant she has been involved in many activities, including the Kirklees Youth