Author Bio ▼

IFSEC Insider, formerly IFSEC Global, is the leading online community and news platform for security and fire safety professionals.
February 19, 2021


Lithium-Ion batteries. A guide to the fire risk that isn’t going away but can be managed

FIA Fireside chat: ‘Digital capability is exciting for the future of the fire industry’

In the latest Fireside Chats series, the Fire Industry Association (FIA), sat down with Paul Fuller, Chief Fire Officer at Bedfordshire and Luton. He has served on a number of national bodies including Chair of CFOA Services Limited Chair of Fire Sector Federation, CFOA past President and is currently Chair of Trustees for the Children’s Burns Trust, Chair of the Trustees of the Fire Fighters Charity and Chair of Fire Sport UK.

Here, we catch a few highlights of the conversation – read the full interview between Paul and the FIA’s Adam Richardson, here.

What does your usual day look like?

“Usually start at 9 with lots of meetings, even more so now because we do it virtually, so we don’t really get the luxury of a break while you travel. So, lots of meetings, lots of emails.  The best days are discussing things with staff seeing what they’re up to. Getting out on operations if the rare opportunity arises. Spending quite a bit of time responding to governance and measuring performance and planning. We consciously talk about dealing with outside organisations, such as the FIA, I’m about 70% externally focused if that external focus also takes into account the locality, not just national bodies.  So, in terms of managing the external perception of the service, it’s probably quite high. I tend to dip into things internally if I’m dealing with a grievance or a disciplinary appeal, or hearing something someone’s upset or displeased or happy about…

“…The pandemic has changed the point of view of re-defining our organisational leadership because our leadership is quite visual.  We’re an operational emergency service, first and foremost, and so our leadership with the community and the organisation has to be quite visual. We can’t do that now. People are encouraged to work from home. That’s quite a strange thing.  We’ve had to find a new balance to maintain our leadership in which everybody understands our mission, our values and they’re all here in their own way trying to do the same thing…

“…So, we’ve had to change that leadership narrative a little bit as we have to lead people’s safety now as well.  But what we have learnt is, people have stepped up whatever their role, they’ve basically said they will do something else. They’ve been brilliant.”

What makes you excited about the future of this industry?

This is all about digital capability. There’s a thing called 999Eye and another one called GoodSam, its similar technology.  One is based on mobile phones and the other one based on street camera technology or probably both. This will revolutionise the way that we deal with an operational incident.

“A few months ago, we had a fire in a shop in Bedford, it was a fast food take away and I was looking at my phone through this app and a drone was flying around the building and the camera on the drone was looking straight down through the top of the building and I could see the breathing apparatus crew at work and I was a hundred miles away. That technology changes the way we think about how we command an incident.

“If you take it another step further. Why would we send an officer to an incident? When we can send them into Fire Control and they can see everything that’s going on and they can make mobilisation decisions in Fire Control rather than waiting for resources to get to the scene…

“…If you took that even further, when someone has fallen over at the side of the road or has been in a car accident then a passer-by can just hold that app on the person and show the consultant in A&E what they are seeing and ask what needs to be done to save this casualty.  So, it’s going to revolutionise the way the world operates. Also, it’s for the safety of operational crews. If you’re in a breathing apparatus crew fighting your way through a hazardous environment some foresight would have been given to you by a heads-up display – that sort of application would be pretty valuable in keeping people safe…

“…A few years ago, we were talking about more powerful and more efficient machines of some sort, perhaps robots that would fight fire for us. We’ve gone on from that because technology has given us so much information that we can think about it in a different way and a safer way of doing things…”

What’s on your Spotify?

“It’s quite eclectic, I did actually have a look at it this morning, but it is quite a collection because I shall listen to something and think I’ll put it on Spotify and then I forget about it. I’m going to say ‘The Rising’ by Bruce Springsteen because that’s about a firefighter dying at 9/11 – perhaps not because of the quality of the music but the story it tells. I’ve got some classical music on there, a bit of country, quite a mixture.

“I’ve also got Africa on there by Toto and the reason it keeps coming on is that last year I climbed Kilimanjaro, so everyone in the group downloaded Africa and it just keeps self-presenting and coming back on – it’s actually a lovely reminder of the experience. All in all it is a mixed genre.”

What two things would you take to a Desert Island?

“Obviously, a fire engine, because with a Fire Engine you can do just about anything. It’s got so much fantastic kit on it and can hold 400 gallons of water.

“A bottomless portion of chicken tikka vindaloo.”

Read the full interview on the FIA’s website, here.


2023 Fire Safety eBook – Grab your free copy!

Download the Fire Safety in 2023 eBook, keeping you up to date with the biggest news and prosecution stories from around the industry. Chapters include important updates such as the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 and an overview of the new British Standard for the digital management of fire safety information.

Plus, we explore the growing risks of lithium-ion battery fires and hear from experts in disability evacuation and social housing.


Related Topics

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments