Rookie firefighters at risk: one Saturday morning last November the morning papers reported the murder of WPC Sharon Beshenivsky and the wounding of her colleague Teresa Milburn in Bradford, West Yorkshire.(The Mike Fordham Column)

In the first of a bi-monthly column, long-serving former FBU Assistant General Secretary Mike Fordham lets rip on firefighter safety, Ministerial performance and regional controls.

This tragic event led to many questions being asked about the society we live in. The papers also highlighted an issue which affects both the police and fire and rescue services. I doubt whether many in either service were not concerned when they read, as every paper reported, that both officers were 'rookies'.

The West Yorkshire Chief Constable stated that the officers had Less than 20 months combined experience on the streets. It is not for me to question as to whether more experienced officers would have reacted differently in that case but there is a Legitimate debate to be had on experience and its role in providing a safe working environment within the emergency services.

The Fire and Rescue Service now has at its core a training and development system (IPDS) which relies on the principle of firefighters (in all roles) being competent. …

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