General

A statement regarding the major incident at Chobham Common

Very early on during the Chobham Common incident on Friday our commanders declared this a major incident which meant that we were able to highlight that a national multi-agency approach was required.

To put this in context, these are rare events, like the Covid-19 pandemic response and the flooding in 2014 and so are unprecedented and normally beyond the capability of a single service to manage on its own. The recent Thursley Common incident was a bigger fire in terms of acres but did not require as much of a multi-agency response as it was less complicated and so was not declared as a major incident.

We know that sufficient fire cover was in attendance at this incident to bring it under control and deliver our firefighting purpose because we instigated the National Major Incident protocols.

At any incident the initial response can be busier, faster moving and sometimes more stressful but the safety of the public and welfare of everyone is and, always will be, paramount. It was part of the multi-agency strategic approach and coordination of the incident and a Welfare Officer is always on site to ensure staff wellbeing.

Our crews have food and drink rations on our fire engines at all times and provisions are in place to ensure that they have ongoing food and drink at longer incidents. Having said this, we are very grateful to the community for their spontaneous generosity and efforts. We are also very grateful for the support of the Rapid Relief Team in accordance with our plans who were on site for some of this incident helping us provide this food and drink for our teams.

We believe and trust that all our commanders; who are responsible for managing our people and team’s welfare, do a good job and take their responsibility of staff welfare seriously at all times.

Commanders and Service Leadership Team members at the scene have spoken of a good morale mostly throughout our teams and our partners, all of whom we looked after during this incident.

We are very proud of all our staff and partners involved in tackling this unpredictable and challenging fire, keeping people and property safe. SFRS staff should take pride in the amount of praise being given.

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