West Midlands Fire Service

West Midlands Fire Service
Operational area
Country  England
County West Midlands
Agency overview
Established 1974 (1974)
Employees 1,322
Fire chief Phil Loach
Facilities and equipment
Stations 38
Official website

West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) is the second-largest fire and rescue service in the country & only one of two fire services in which all stations are full-time, delivering emergency services to 2.74 million residents across seven local authority areas in the county of the West Midlands in England.

The brigade is run under the command of the Chief Fire Officer Phil Loach and the Strategic Enabling Team (SET), providing emergency response from 38 strategically located fire stations, divided into six Command Areas.[1] Responsibility for the running on the brigade lies with "West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority", which is a joint-authority, made up of councillors from the seven local authorities in the West Midlands.[2]

The service was created in 1974 when the West Midlands county came into being. Prior to its creation, each of the county boroughs in the West Midlands area (Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Solihull, Walsall, Warley, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton) had their own fire brigade. The largest of these brigades was the City of Birmingham Fire Brigade. WMFS was created by a merger of these, plus parts of Warwickshire Fire Brigade.

The service was originally headquartered in the former City of Birmingham Fire Brigade headquarters at Lancaster Circus which were opened on 2 December 1935 by HRH Duke of Kent. It is now a Listed building. However, the service moved to purpose built, modern headquarters on Vauxhall Road, Nechells, in 2008.

Chief Fire Officers

The following people have held the office of Chief Fire Officer:

Fire Stations/Appliances

All fire stations within the service are full-time and some work on 2 types of shift

B7 Bickenhill Community Fire Station & Technical Rescue Unit
C4 Bournbrook Community Fire Station
C6 Northfield Community Fire Station
A5 Perry Barr Community Fire Station
Station Callsign Station Name Duty System Appliances
A02 Aston Core 1x PRL, 1x BRV
A03 Sutton Coldfield Core 1x PRL
A04 Erdington Core 1x PRL
A05 Perry Barr Core/Cross Crewed* 1x PRL, 1x BRV, 1x PM*, pods: 2x FDU, 1x WSU
A06 Ward End Core 1x PRL, 1x BRV
A07 Handsworth Core/Late/Cross Crewed* 1x PRL, 1x BRV, 1x ICCU*
B01 Solihull Core/Cross Crewed* 1x PRL,1x BRV, 1x CSV*
B02 Sheldon Core/Cross Crewed* 1x PRL, 1x BRV, 1x HVPSV, 2x PM*, pods: 1x HVP, 1x HVHL, 1x MDD, 1x MDR
B03 Coventry Core 1x PRL, 1x BRV, 1x ALP, 1x BSV
B04 Canley Core/Cross Crewed* 1x PRL, 1x IRU*
B05 Foleshill Core 1x PRL, 1x BRV
B06 Binley Core/Late 1x PRL, 1x BRV
B07 Bickenhill/TRU Core/Cross Crewed* 1x TRP, 1x BRV, 1x TRS, 1x L4V, 1x PM*, pods: 1x MRU, 1x TRU, 1x WSU
B07 Bickenhill/USAR Cross Crewed 1x PCV, 1x SDU, 4x PM, modules: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
C01 Highgate Core 2x PRL, 1x ALP
C02 Woodgate Valley Core 1x PRL
C03 Smethwick Core 1x PRL, pod: 1x MPV
C04 Bournbrook Core 1x PRL
C05 Kings Norton Core 1x PRL
C06 Northfield Core 1x PRL, 1x BRV
C07 Ladywood Core/Late 1x PRL, 1x BRV, 1x BSV
C08 Billesley Core/Late 1x PRL, 1x BRV
C09 Hay Mills Core/Cross Crewed* 1x PRL, 1x BRV, 1x DIM* 1x PM*, pods 1x BASU, 1x EPU, 1x GPU, 1x HSU, 1x ISU, 1x WFU
D01 Oldbury Core/Late 1x PRL, 1x BRV, 1x ALP
D02 Brierley Hill Core/Late 1x PRL, 1x BRV
D03 Haden Cross Core/Late 1x PRL, 1x BRV
D05 Stourbridge Core/Cross Crewed* 1x PRL, 1x IRU*
D07 Tipton Core 1x PRL
D08 West Bromwich Core/Cross Crewed* 1x PRL, 1x BRV, 1x BSV.
D09 Dudley Core/Late 1x PRL, 1x BRV
E01 Walsall Core/Cross Crewed* 2x PRL, 1x ALP, 1x IRU*
E02 Bloxwich Core 1x PRL
E03 Willenhall Core/Cross Crewed* 1x PRL, 1x PM*, pods: 1x EPU, 1x HSU, 1x ISU
E04 Aldridge Core 1x PRL, 1x BRV
E05 Wolverhampton Core 1x PRL, 1x BRV
E06 Fallings Park Core 1x PRL, 1x BRV
E07 Bilston Core/Cross Crewed* 1x PRL, 1x CSV*
E08 Tettenhall Late 1x PRL
E09 Wednesbury Core 1x TRP, 1x TRS

Fire Appliance Glossary/Callsigns

29 1996-2007 Dennis Sabre XL Pump Rescue Ladders
19 2013-2015 Toyota Hilux Brigade Response Vehicles
14 2012-2016 Volvo FL Pump Rescue Ladders


Technical Rescue Unit

Technical Rescue Support Unit
TRU Prime Mover with WSU Pod


Urban Search & Rescue

USAR Prime Mover with Pod


CBRN Response



West Midlands Fire Service is one of only two brigades in the UK where all operational staff are full-time (the other being the London fire brigade).

Shift system

Firefighters are part of a Watch system that consists of 'core' crews and 'late' crews depending on the station they are serving at. Staff that are part of the core crews will be on duty for two days from 8am until 6pm, then two nights from 6pm until 8am. Late crews are on duty from 10am until 10pm for four days in a row. Firefighters that are part of the core crews will belong to either a Red, Green, White or Blue Watch, and those in the late crews will belong to either an Orange or Purple Watch.

Role system

As with many other fire services, West Midlands Fire Service uses a rank structure that has evolved over time – the original titles are still used some brigades.

Former titleModern title
Leading FirefighterCrew Commander
Sub-OfficerWatch Commander A
Station OfficerWatch Commander B
Assistant Divisional OfficerStation Commander
Divisional OfficerGroup Commander
Senior Divisional Officer Area Commander
Assistant Chief OfficerAssistant Chief Fire Officer
Deputy Chief OfficerDeputy Chief Fire Officer
Chief Fire OfficerChief Fire Officer

Specialist Units

Technical Rescue Unit

Operating out of two locations, the primary base at Bickenhill fire station and a satellite base at Wednesbury fire station, the WMFS Technical Rescue Unit has purpose built facilities to train in all specialist rescue disciplines, providing a local, regional and national response 24 hours a day 365 days a year to any USAR/widescale flooding incident as well as the support necessary for specialist rescue incidents.

The team is made up of a Station Commander, Administration Officer, Equipment Maintenance Officer, USAR Training Officer, Search Dog Handler, and four watches each made up of a Watch Commander, Crew Commander and six Technicians. A further four watches are based at Wednesbury.

With shifts running along the same colour watches as the core fire crews, watch based personnel work a 96-hour duty period with 48 hours on full duty and the remainder on retained cover. Retained personnel can respond to base within 30 minutes of being required for multiple incident deployment.[8]

The unit makes use of a wide range of vehicles and equipment to carry out their role. Each TRU base has two primary response vehicles:

Additional vehicles and equipment are based at Bickenhill:

West Midlands 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. There are 18 team members in West Midland Fire Services UK-ISAR, split into a Red Team and a Blue Team. The role of the team is to respond to support the UK Government when deploying personnel and equipment in response to international disasters such as an earthquakes.

When on international call, a deployment is made of a team of six including the team leader from one of the groups and a Group Commander to act as the Operations Commander or Deployment Commander in charge of the UK International Search & Rescue Group (UKISARG).

The team should arrive in the affected country within 24 hours of the disaster occurring and be self-sufficient for periods of up to 10 days. Extensive specialist training over and above that normally required for firefighters is given to all team members.[9]

12 members of the West Midlands team were deployed as part of the UKISAR (United Kingdom International Search And Rescue) mission to Haiti in the wake of the earthquake there on 12 January 2010.[10] The team were joined by 2 further members who had been in Sweden as part of a training exercise at the time of the earthquake. The team were involved in the rescue of several people, including two-year-old Mia, who had been trapped for over four days.[11]

Fire Research Investigation Team (FRIT)

The West Midlands Fire Research and Investigation Section (FRIS) was the first one formed in the United Kingdom in 1983, and in 25 years has attended over 8,000 incidents.

FRIS provides 24-hour/365-day availability as required and the team includes a Dog Handler, who working together with his dog, provides arson detection searches at fires where it is suspected that accelerants such as petrol may have been used.

FRIS investigates the cause of fire in a variety of different types of incidents including large fires, fires wherethe cause cannot be immediately determined and fires where people may have been injured or have unfortunately died.

FRIS works closely with the Police, other Services and organisations such as insurance companies, when investigating fires. The officers also work on special projects including arson reduction policies and strategies, human behaviour in fire, the main causes of fire, and the compilation of any information to identify trends in fire causes. This information is vital when we undertake targeted initiatives and campaigns relating to the education of fire safety awareness.

FRIS Officers are also regularly called to give expert witness evidence at Civil, Criminal (Magistrates and Crown) and Coroners Court.[12]


WMFS has committed to keeping open its 38 fire stations, with at least one standard fire engine at all of them, as well as maintaining its five-minute target response time to high-risk incidents.

Coventry, Highgate and Walsall fire stations will each have two fire engines available around-the-clock. The introduction of Brigade Response Vehicles is now complete, with a total of 19 now in active frontline service. The Brigade still face tough times ahead in terms of a reduced budget however the Brigade will be recruiting 50 New Firefighters in early 2015. The Brigade as per it's Vehicle replacement programme will purchase another 6/7 new Fire Appliances in 2015 and a further 6 in 2016 to replace ageing older appliances, these vehicles will gradually enter service throughout the prospective year. The Brigade are also looking into introducing AFA vehicles (automatic fire alarms) in the way of mini coopers. It is yet unknown how many of these vehicles will be rolled out or where their destined stations will be. During 2015/16 both Aston & Coventry fire stations are likely to be replaced with completely new stations, not to mention a vast amount of maintenance to other stations such as Highgate & West Bromwich which will both have complete Appliance bay doors replacements and extensive works both interior & exterior to all other stations.[13]

Notable Incidents

See also


This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/22/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.