Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service area
Area Cheshire
Size 2,334 km²
Population 984,300
Formed 1 April 1948
HQ Winsford
Staff 989
Stations 24
Co-responder No
Chief Fire Officer Paul Hancock
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Mark Cashin
Website Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service
Fire authority Cheshire Fire Authority
v · d · e
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service Headquarters, Winsford, Cheshire

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service is the statuory fire and rescue service for the English county of Cheshire, consisting of the unitary authorities of Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Halton and Warrington. It has 24 fire stations. The Chief Fire Officer is Paul Hancock. Cheshire Fire Authority comprises councillors from our local communities of Cheshire, Halton and Warrington who manage Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service. They make decisions on things like policy, finance and resources.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service is led by the Chief Fire Officer and the Service Management Team.


The Service

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service employs over 980 staff and looks after a population of 984,300 people spread across an area of 2,334 square kilometres. The region features several large urban areas such as Warrington and Chester, an extensive transport infrastructure and one of the highest concentrations of petrochemical industries in the country. It is in close proximity to two major airports: Manchester and Liverpool.

We have 24 fire stations and a headquarters in Winsford.

We respond to emergency incidents - known as Emergency Response (ER) across the four unitary council areas of:

•Halton •Warrington •Cheshire East •Cheshire West and Chester

We also provide community safety advice, which helps us to reduce risks and to improve:

•Community/public safety •Business safety/safety at work Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service have won a number of awards over the years including:

Fire Service of the Year 2011

In 2011 the organisation won "Fire Service of the Year” at the inaugural Emergency Services Awards held on Thursday April 7, 2011. Judges said that Cheshire had demonstrated exceptional all round performance and particularly praised its effectiveness at protecting local communities which has seen staff visit over 300,000 homes to give out vital safety advice and fit free smoke alarms. The Service's key achievements over the past five years include: • Fire-related injuries down from 133 in 2004-05 to 37 in 2009-10 • Accidental house fires down from 675 to 470 • Fires in businesses cut from 668 to 243 • Arson attacks reduced from 1,398 to 580 • Delivery of over 300,000 Home Safety Assessments - 65% of properties of all homes in Cheshire. Cheshire was also commended in the Fire Service Innovation category and the Public Communication section.

Best Partnership Project 2011

Cheshire won Best Partnership Project at the Fire Excellence Awards 2011 for partnership work with Age UK and the employment of a jointly funded advocate who case manages high risk individuals and effective inter-agency strategy to reduce risk. This post was a first for Age UK and a fire and rescue service. At the heart of the creation of the partnership was the recognition by Service personnel that, when carrying out Home Safety Assessments and fitting smoke alarms in the homes of over-65s, staff were able to let residents know of the services and support provided by Age UK and also highlight potentially vulnerable individuals to Age UK.

Innovation in strategy at a local level 2010

The Service won the ‘Innovation in strategy at a local level’ category at the hotly contested E Government Excellence national awards in 2010. This was for the Service’s SPRINGBOARD (Starting Proactive Response, Introducing New Gains, Benefiting Older-people and Reducing Dependency) project that adopted a partnership approach to improving the safety and quality of life for older residents.

British Safety Councils (BSC) International Safety Award 2010

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service won the prestigious British Safety Councils (BSC) International Safety Award. More than 600 organisations from across the world apply for the British Safety Councils (BSC) International Safety Awards each year and in 2010 Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service representatives joined leading organisations from the international world of health and safety to celebrate their success in winning one of these coveted Awards.

Fire engines and special vehicles

Cheshire use an number of vehicles/appliances (fire engines and other special vehicles). We also have a number of old (vintage) vehicles. Across these stations there are 36 fire appliances and a variety of other specialist appliances such as hydraulic platforms, hazardous materials units, and command units. (please click on link below for details of different vehicles)

What do we do?

We respond to all emergency calls from the public for assistance. Many emergency calls, however, are not to fires but to incidents where members of the community are trapped in vehicles following road traffic collisions, trapped in machinery, or trapped in less life threatening circumstances as well as being called to chemical spillages and toxic emissions.

We also deal with many other domestic situations such as flooding, storm damage, people unable to gain access to premises, animals in distress etc.

Staff numbers

Staff Numbers (Headcount) as at 31 March 2011: 996

  • Wholetime firefighters: 430
  • Day Crewing firefighters: 95
  • On-Call Firefighters: 180
  • Fire Control Room: 26
  • Support Staff: 265

Fire stations

A total of 24 fire stations are strategically sited throughout the county. These are broken down as:

  • 7 wholetime-only shift fire stations crewed 24/7
  • 1 wholetime shift fire station crewed 24/7 with supporting on-call crew
  • 6 day-crewed stations, crewed during the day but with on-call staff at night
  • 10 stations crewed only by on-call personnel
Ellesmere Port station
Warrington station
Holmes Chapel station



Retained (on-call)

Cheshire's UK International Search And Rescue Team (UK-ISAR)

The United Kingdom International Search and Rescue Team (UK-ISAR) is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to respond to humanitarian accidents or disasters anywhere in the world. The team from Cheshire responds to requests from the Government to help out during international disasters. The intention is for them to arrive in the affected country within 24 hours of the disaster and be self sufficient for at least ten days. Cheshire also has a Search and Rescue Dog, which is a Border collie called Bryn, and he is handled by Firefighter Steve Buckley.

On February 23, 2011 a team of seven from Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service went to Auckland, New Zealand and joined teams from West Midlands, Essex, West Sussex, Hampshire, Grampian, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and South Wales to help with the aftermath of an earthquake.

The team searched and cleared three complete city blocks and also carried out searches on specific buildings. This included a major operation around the collapsed Pyne Gould Corporation office block, which had seen multiple rescues in the early stages. The team found no survivors but did recover 13 bodies.

Less than a month later Cheshire Firefighter Steve Buckley and search and rescue dog Bryn were deployed to Japan on March 12, 2011 following the devastating earthquake and tsunami.

The pair spent a week away and searched industrial and residential areas and although they didn’t find any trapped victims, they did recover bodies allowing the Japanese people to find some closure on finding their loved ones. In order to achieve this, the team members have to be trained firefighters. They have been selected as suitable for the work and are fully inoculated for working overseas.

Additional training is required by all team members, which is over and above the training that is required for normal Fire Service duties.

These personnel must then take with them a range of equipment, which will enable them to live and work in hostile environments anywhere in the world.

Background to the International Search and Rescue Team Service teams were sent out to Iraq at the end of the Gulf War in support of the Operation 'Safe Haven' and provided humanitarian assistance to the Kurdish population fleeing from an oppressive Iraqi regime.

This effort was so successful that in 1992 the Home Office invited Fire Services to form an organisation to respond to International Disasters. The organisation formed to meet this need was initially called 'The United Kingdom Fire Services Search and Rescue Team.'

Following this, the International UK Search and Rescue Team (UK-ISAR) was established.

Community Safety Centres

We have four Community Safety Teams working throughout Cheshire based in Community Fire Safety Centres in Widnes, Warrington, Crewe and Ellesmere Port. The teams all work towards getting across the message that fire prevention is better than cure in a bid to slash the number of deaths and injuries happening in fires and road traffic collisions in and around Cheshire. The teams reach out to the local communities to highlight the dangers of fire - giving practical advice on fire safety issues.

Community Fire Protection

The primary role of the Community Fire Protection (CFP) department is to ensure fire safety legislation is enforced. In addition the department proactively works to promote fire protection systems and safe practices in the workplace and is responsible for reducing Unwanted Fire Signals (UwFS), "false alarms", from automatic fire alarms.

Fire Safety officers undertake audits of various workplaces within the community (cinemas, schools, care homes, shops, factories etc.), comment on plans submitted for Building Regulations approval and supply specialist advice to other agencies such as local authority Licensing Departments.

Purpose To make Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Halton and Warrington safer by way of fire safety enforcement and working with partners to reduce risk.

To reduce the impact of fire by:

  • Ensuring fire safety protection is designed into new or materially altered non-domestic premises, including offices and other buildings. This involves working closely with Building Control to ensure Building Regulation standards are met;
  • Enforcement, through Fire Safety legislation, which sets out employer's and others' responsibilities for providing and maintaining a safe environment; and
  • Education that supports Fire Safety legislation enforcement and community fire safety initiatives which aim to promote fire safe behaviour.


  • Conduct a programme of fire safety re-inspections targeted at the higher risk premises;
  • Increase the number of premises fitted with sprinkler systems and smoke detectors, by working closely with relevant partners;
  • Reduce the number of UwFs, by way of proactively working with the "Responsible Person";
  • Work closely with the business community via the Business Liaison team
  • Carry out general fire safety audits, employing a risk assessed approach within the limits of the Service provided by law;
  • Reduce the impact of Arson on the business community, by way of education, inspection and enforcement; and
  • Work closely with Building Control to design-out fire safety risks.


Early Formation

The City of Chester Dennis F7 entered service in 1949

In 1947 it was decided that the National Fire Service should be reorganised into a series of regional Fire Brigades. At that time there were 23,500 firemen in England and Wales, with an additional 18,000 part time personnel, including a small number of women. It was recognised that these numbers were to prove too small for future requirements.

Cheshire County Fire Department was formed on 1 April 1948 after a period of nationalisation spanning six and a half years.

The years following the Second World War were a time of great shortages. A plea was made to the new Fire Brigades from His Majesty's Stationery Office that when disposing of NFS documents all pins, tags, paperclips and file covers should be saved. Severe problems also arose in finding suitable housing for the firemen, firewomen and their families. This continued to be a problem into the next decade.

The 50s

The summer of 1949/50 was exceptionally dry and this led to a considerable increase in the number of fires, with a 33% rise in the number of calls.

There was also an increase of malicious calls, with 53 being noted in that year. It was a worrying trend that was to continue until 1956/57.

At that time about a third of fires were either chimney fires or were caused by children playing with matches. Sparks from railway locomotives were also a problem. A growing area of work was special service calls, many involving the rescue of animals from "precarious positions".

Fire prevention was stepped up with the number of inspections almost doubling in 1950. In 1952/52 a Fire Safety campaign was launched with films shown in every cinema including "Every Five Minutes" and "Fire The Enemy".

Recruitment was a major issue facing the Brigade. A major recruitment drive was launched in 1950 but many officers were leaving the service for more remunerative employment in industry. Another problem was the suitability of candidates. In 1953/54, of the 102 who applied to join only 20 were found to be satisfactory.

After protracted negotiations with the Police, limited participation in a trial of wireless communication was agreed. For the first time fire stations would be linked by radio and by the mid-50s 25 fire appliances had radio communications.

Many fire station premises were found to be totally unsuitable. Many had unsatisfactory facilities with drills being carried out on public thoroughfares. New fire stations were opened at Audlem n 1954/55 - the first since the formation of the Brigade - and Ellesmere Port in 1956. New temporary premises were found for Tarporley in the following year. Poynton fire station and Bebington fire station came into operation in 1958 and 1959 respectively.

New made-to-measure fire tunics with greater protective quality were introduced in 1953/54. Similar arrangements were to follow for part-time staff. Subsequently a new type of helmet was issued to all members of the brigade.

In the early 1950s 240 members of the Brigade became qualified in the use of breathing apparatus. Demonstrations were given in using the equipment underwater. Special thanks were given to the Mines Rescue Station at Boothstown who helped in testing the breathing apparatus.

The 60s

The summer of 1960 saw a major water shortage and the Brigade assisted in laying over one mile of six inch pipe between a moorland stream and a reservoir in Macclesfield. 200,000 gallons a day were pumped for a period of several weeks.

The upward trend in calls, fatalities, special service calls and injuries to firefighters continued throughout the decade. In 1963/64 the number of calls rose to a high of 7450 and 18 people lost their lives. Many were elderly people living alone who died trying to keep warm in the severe winter.

By the end of the decade all calls to the Brigade in Cheshire were received in the central Control Room at Brigade Headquarters. Home Office statistics highlighted in 1969/70 an increase on 20% in property fires costing £120 million of damage.

The Cheshire section of the M6 Motorway had opened in the November.

A growing trend of special service calls arose in 1964/65. These included the Brigade assisting with beach cleaning operations in Cornwall during May following the Torrey Canyon tanker disaster and assistance with disinfecting operations at hundreds of farms throughout the county affected by the dreadful foot and mouth disease.

Perhaps not in the same category of special service call, but an unprecedented search involving 182 members of the Brigade, also took place to find a missing school girl.

The joint Police - Fire Service Wireless Scheme became so congested in 1962 that an independent frequency for exclusive use of the Fire Brigade was agreed. A Wireless Scheme independent of the Police was achieved a year later.

Complaints started in the mid 60s regarding the use of sirens to summon part-time firemen. Sounding mechanisms were adjusted to reduce the time of sounding 30 seconds. A growing number of complaints was reduced by the late 60s and alternative methods were to be sought to alert the part-time service.

The County Council's Fire Brigade Committee introduced the first Junior Fireman Scheme in the mid-60s. Under the scheme boys were enrolled at 16 years and until 18 years undertook further education and training. A serious shortage of staff was reported in this period with many experienced members of the Brigade leaving to take better paid jobs in industrial Brigades. By the end of the decade note was again made of the recruiting problem; finding staff with the right physical and educational standards was as big a problem as ever.

The 70s

The 1970s saw the first major revision of the Brigade since 1948 with amalgamations between Lancashire County, Warrington County Borough and Chester City. Widnes, which had previously been part of the Lancashire County Fire Brigade, Warrington County Brigade and the City Of Chester Fire Brigade all joined to form a smaller Cheshire Fire Brigade, the word County having been dropped from the Brigade title. The Wirral became part of Merseyside and Hyde, Stalybridge, Dukinfield, Marple, Altrincham and Sale joined Greater Manchester. Cheshire now had 23 stations.

By 1976 the Chief Officer was battling to try and make savings of £38,000. He reported to the Committee that this could not be done without reducing manpower.

The 70s are remembered by many as a decade of change and industrial unrest. The decade began with an industrial dispute and was to culminate in 1978 with a strike lasting 9 weeks.

It started when the Fire Brigades Union instructed its members to refuse all duties except answering emergency calls. This situation existed for seven weeks. The Government promised to set up an enquiry to evaluate a fireman's job. It was hoped this would form the basis of a future pay structure.

The strike lasted nine weeks and ended following much bitterness. Fire losses in Cheshire were fortunately small compared with some areas, though there was one major fire at Rock Oil Warrington and a number of serious domestic fires.

The issue of using sirens to alert retained staff was addressed with the introduction of pocket alerters. Other technological developments saw research into infra-red equipment for viewing through smoke. More modern materials were used to replace the old woollen fire tunics. A microfiche system was introduced making obsolete the mobilising cards used in the Control Room.

New fire engines were tendered for the late 70s, for the first time incorporating steel safety cabs and a skid check breaking system.

A staff suggestion scheme was introduced. The princely sum of £3.00 was awarded to a member of staff who proposed an identification board for locating incidents on complex motorway systems.

The early 1970s saw the introduction of fire safety education into the school curriculum. Television also started to play a major part with the launch of a national campaign to try to prevent children playing with matches.

The 80s

In the early 80s the Association of County Councils condemned a report from the Chief and Assistant Fire Chief Officers' Association suggesting the nationalisation of the Fire Service. "Responsibility for the Fire Service clearly and rightly rests with the elected local government" said the ACC.

An emphasis on efficiency and financial controls continued to be an issue. In 1986 the Audit Commission Report "Value For Money In the Fire Service" stated that in Cheshire "one reason for the relatively modest value improvement potential is that the Fire Service appears to be notably well managed." They also concluded: "it is difficult to avoid asking whether the Service would be better off with longer hours on call and higher pay."

Recruitment difficulties also continued to cause problems. A proposal for a Junior Firefighters Scheme for school leavers with financial assistance from the County Council's Youth Training Scheme was requested in 1987. This was subsequently to become known as the Apprentice Firefighters Scheme.

Word processing technology was introduced at Brigade Headquarters and Divisions in 1983 and a completely new radio system was installed at Vaughan's Lane, Chester, in 1984.

At this time Knutsford received new heavy rescue hydraulic cutting and spreading gear - the location being chosen due to its proximity to the motorway network. Also purchased were two sets of equipment to seal leaks on tanks and a thermal thermometer which could be pointed from some distance at tanks and pipework to establish internal temperatures.

One of the greatest tragedies of recent times occurred in 1986 when a holiday flight caught fire on take-off from Manchester Airport. Wilmslow Fire Station who rescued one of the last survivors was awarded a citation from Greater Manchester Fire Service for their work at the disaster. This incident was instrumental in providing a major review of airline safety.

By the late 80s a computerised Stores System to provide "effective low cost solutions to existing clerical problems" was installed at Winsford. The system assisted in stock control and general administration.

1989 saw the purchase of the first thermal imaging camera. Its effectiveness in locating trapped victims was noted and further cameras were purchased in future years.

Finally late in the decade the Brigade attended the First Annual General Meeting of the Welephant Club. Cheshire's Welephant went on to become a key feature of fire safety education.

The 90s

The Brigade installed a telephone answering service into which members of the media could telephone for the latest information about incidents that were being attended. This "voicebank" system was in response to the greatly increased number of calls from media organisations.

Cheshire introduced an education programme to primary schools which taught young children how to react if caught in smoke. Initially this proposal caused some concern with educationalists, but was subsequently proved to save lives in Cheshire with young people putting the lessons into practice.

The Chief Fire Officer was commended for his work on introducing Fire Engineering degrees. In September 1991 the first degrees of this kind worldwide were made available through the University of Central Lancashire, enabling firefighters to become Chartered Fire Engineers.

1992 a management review began the process that would see an end to the historic Divisional Structure and a move to a style of management more befitting a modern Fire Brigade. The Home Office approved the move from three Divisions to a new structure and the establishment changes that this would entail.

Fire Brigade Headquarters and the former home of famous Victorian architect John Douglas was advertised in Country Life in 1996 in order to attract potential purchasers. This was the final phase of the move onto one site at Winsford.

At this time teddy bears started riding with first-line appliances - the idea being to comfort children following fire or accidents. The same year Her Majesty's Inspector comments on Cheshire noted an: "efficient and effective Brigade, particularly the high morale of the firefighters."

Road accidents involving people trapped in vehicles had grown by 50% over this decade. As a result all first-line appliances were equipped with newly available hi-tech cutting and spreading equipment. Frodsham - the first station to be equipped - was sponsored by funds raised at the Bull's Head public house after the tragic death of a customer.

The risk from the many chemical plants in the county led to a major educational drive within the local community. A video was produced for schools and leaflets distributed to every house in Cheshire.

The brigade started a scheme called Fire Cadets at Poynton. Similar to the Scouts or Guides, it encouraged young people between 14-17 to take part in community activity and training.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service badged Gallet helmet

The new Gallet or Eurohelmet was purchased for firefighters which offered a far higher level of protection than the traditional cork helmet which dated from the just after the war. They soon proved their worth in preventing injuries where the old helmets would have failed.

The extreme weather in the summer of 1995 led to a great increase in calls - over 1000 in one weekend. This caused budgetary problems at the end of the financial year mainly due to turnout fees for retained firefighters.

In March 1997 a final farewell function was organised at Walmoor House to which staff and retired members were invited.

In October 1997 the Duke Of York officially opened the new headquarters marking the start of a new era.

On 1 April 1998 Cheshire County Council shared its responsibility for Cheshire Fire Service as part of the new Cheshire Fire Authority with Halton and Warrington Unitary Councils.

The 00s

In September 2006 the service launched a brand new website.

On 1 October 2006, the new Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 was introduced. This set new fire safety rules, which affects all non-domestic premises in England and Wales.

Also in 2006, our work on prevention and protection saw us leading a successful £1 million 'Respect' project to work with young people and delivered over 30,000 Home Safety Assessments.

In 2007, the Service emerged with flying colours from the biggest-ever independent review of the way it delivers services to the communities of Cheshire, Halton and Warrington. The Audit Commission - the national body which ensures public services deliver value for money - has gave the organisation Four Stars, the highest possible rating, and added that it is "performing well".

This summer of 2007 saw unprecedented rainfall levels and major flooding across the country which caused devastation to areas such as Yorkshire and Worcester. Crews from Cheshire were mobilised to assist with the devastating floods in South Yorkshire.

In 2008, following the closure by Cheshire County Council of the secondary Control Room 'back-up' system at the Beacons near Frodsham, a new secondary system was commissioned at Warrington fire station.

In July 2008, the Service was one of the first in the country to achieve Level 3 of the Local Government Equality Standard through a rigorous external assessment process and the achievement was marked at a special awards ceremony in Manchester.

In November 2008, we saw a dramatic fall in the number of bonfire incidents, a major reduction in calls received by Control operators and no reported injuries.

In March 2009, the Service hit its target of carrying out 60,000 Home Safety Assessments in 12-months.

April 2009 was a time for new beginnings with the launch of new councils for Cheshire East and Cheshire West and Chester resulting in a new-look Fire Authority and new Chair. This was also the month that the major new building programme started at Headquarters.

October 2009, existing Deputy Paul Hancock was appointed Chief Fire Officer. He replaced Steve McGuirk who moved to the Chief's role at Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

The 10s In June 2010 a new extension to HQ in Winsford was completed. This included new offices, meeting rooms, restaurant and a re-furbishment of existing rooms and corridors throughout the HQ building.

A new car park was also opened to the rear of the building.

In November 2010 the service launched a brand new website which enabled users to customise their homepage

Cheshire Safety Day

External links

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