KIRKLEES has an award-winning new fire and rescue chief.
Keith Robinson is the newly appointed district manager for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service in Kirklees, based at Huddersfield Fire Station on Outcote Bank.
Last night he won an award for outstanding contribution at the service’s annual awards ceremony.
He was nominated for the support he has given to colleagues and their families, much of which has gone above the call of duty.
Mr Robinson, 47, has been joined at Huddersfield Fire Station by Steve Fealy, 40, the new assistant district manager for Kirklees.
They are urging people to call on their staff for help to make the area safer.
Father-of-two Mr Robinson, from Rastrick, said: “We are here to help. We have got the answers, but we need people to come and ask.”
Mr Robinson, a firefighter of 28 years, said the service’s role had changed.
“We are not just about the big red fire engine turning up to a fire,” he said. “About 80% of our work now is on the preventative side of things.”
As well as carrying out more than 8,000 free home fire safety checks a year, Kirklees firefighters perform an educational role. That includes running the young firefighters’ scheme, to show youngsters what the service does. It offers a diploma qualification that is equivalent to a GCSE.
Working with the police and Kirklees Council, they also teach young people about the consequences of anti-social behaviour.
And, while deaths from fires in West Yorkshire have dropped, from about 45 a year 10 years ago to 10 last year, much of the work is now dealing with road accidents.
“We still put the odd fire out,” said Mr Robinson. “But now we have so much more work with road traffic collisions, because more people lose their lives that way than in fires.
“My agenda is to make Kirklees safer. My dream is that no-one dies in a fire or is seriously injured in a fire.”
Skelmanthorpe Fire Station won the award for Retained Fire Station of the Year at last night’s awards. Firefighters were nominated for a successful road safety project, which involves visiting young people at schools to highlight the dangers of speeding, drugs and poor driving skills. They attended a number of community events and carried out charity work.