Kings Langley fire station among the winners at the HEART awards

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Awards for people at the HEART of the community

The achievements of Hertfordshire County Council’s Community Protection staff were recognised at the tenth HEART awards on Thursday, September 16.

The awards highlighted the contributions to community safety made by Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Hertfordshire Resilience, Trading Standards and the County Community Safety Unit, as well as partner agencies.

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This year, the awards were held at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, in Leavesden, Hertfordshire.

Kings Langley fire station (on-call station of the year) with CFO Chris Bigland (left of photos) and Director Alex WoodmanKings Langley fire station (on-call station of the year) with CFO Chris Bigland (left of photos) and Director Alex Woodman
Kings Langley fire station (on-call station of the year) with CFO Chris Bigland (left of photos) and Director Alex Woodman

Alex Woodman, director of community protection, said: “It was a real privilege for me to co-present the HEART awards for the first time this year and to be able to personally thank the people working day after day to keep Hertfordshire residents safe.

“The nominations reflect the incredibly broad range of interventions that the directorate supports; from education and prevention initiatives in the community, right through to emergency response when the public are at their most vulnerable. Congratulations to all our well-deserving winners.”

The HEART Award winners for 2021 were:

On-Call Station of the Year (Sponsored by Capita)

OPALS project (Community Safety Initiative of the year) with CFO Chris Bigland (left of photos) and Director Alex WoodmanOPALS project (Community Safety Initiative of the year) with CFO Chris Bigland (left of photos) and Director Alex Woodman
OPALS project (Community Safety Initiative of the year) with CFO Chris Bigland (left of photos) and Director Alex Woodman

Kings Langley

Kings Langley fire station won this award for its crews’ outstanding community engagement.

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The station has excellent standing in the local community; the crew are visible at events from Remembrance Sunday to the local carnival. Members of the crew are also involved in community outreach initiatives, including working with the organisations “Inspiring Girls” to highlight HFRS as an inclusive employer and promote the firefighter role to women and girls.

Community Safety Initiative of the Year

OPALS (Older Persons Active Learning & Safety)

District community safety co-ordinators from the fire service have been delivering Older Persons’ Active Learning & Safety events for over 65s since 2017.

More recently, coordinators have gone above and beyond to secure additional funding from six sponsors – including retailers like Tesco.

As a result of this, 12 additional OPALS events took place, helping the fire service and its partners reach almost 2,000 older people with important safety messages.

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Wholetime Station of the Year (Sponsored by PBI Performance Products)


Hertford fire station won this award for its outstanding work supporting the surge testing programme in the EN10 postcode during the pandemic.

The Enhanced Logistics Support team at Hertford fire station were chosen to co-ordinate and achieve the huge task of testing everyone in the EN10 postcode in a short timeframe; the team rose to the occasion, coordinating a successful large-scale multiagency response.

Innovation of the Year

Fire Protection and HCC Highways Collaboration

The Fire Protection team has been working closely with HCC’s Highways department to identify and tackle some of the challenges around improving fire service access in new housing developments.

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By working together, Fire Protection are now able to flag up any potential barriers to an effective emergency response at a much earlier stage in the planning process, ensuring better crew access and firefighter and resident safety.

Most Successful Partnership Initiative

The Better Business for All Hertfordshire partnership

The Better Business for All (BBfA) partnership has brought together local authority regulator teams and business groups like the LEP to provide support and guidance to businesses on how to comply with local authority regulation.

BBfA has delivered a multitude of business events, including on Brexit and Covid-19, reaching thousands of businesses and benefiting local authorities too.

The Martin Graham Trophy for Outstanding Sporting Achievement (Sponsored by APB Ltd.)

Lee Digweed

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As Golf Section secretary, Lee Digweed helps arrange dozens of golfing events each year, bringing together current and retired members of the fire service to play golf. Thanks to the money raised at these events, he has developed and launched a Sports and Social website to keep staff up to date on upcoming fixtures and info about all the sports sections.

Community Award

Rapid Relief Team, Plymouth Brethren Christian Church

The Plymouth Brethren provide voluntary support to Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue at operational incidents. The volunteers from the church’s Rapid Relief Team make themselves available to support emergency services with a specific focus on providing refreshments or other practical support at prolonger, enabling crew to focus on responding to an incident without having to worry about leaving the site to refresh and refuel.

Carbon Reduction and Sustainability Award

Chris Martindale

As HFRS’s Estates Manager, Chris has played a pivotal role in not only the development of the Directorate’s Sustainability Plan, but also in overseeing the introduction of many important energy-saving initiatives including our first heat source pump at St Albans, the roll-out of energy efficient lighting across the estate, and the installation of solar panels at 18 of our fire stations.

Team Performance of the Year

East Coast Control Collaboration: Fire Control and Digital Services

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The Digital Services and Fire Control teams worked hard to successfully implement a joint mobilising system for the East Coast Consortium, which included Hertfordshire, Humberside, Lincolnshire, and Norfolk fire and rescue services.

Under the system, the four control rooms are now able to take calls for each other, mobilise resources, and manage incidents, making them much more resilient.

Employee of the Year

Lee Campbell

Lee Campbell won in this category for his personal resilience and enthusiastic engagement with the organisation.

Lee is a dedicated member of the Staff Inclusion Network Group, volunteering to represent the group at a number of boards and supporting the service’s firefighter recruitment campaigns. Alongside Lee’s operational expertise, his passion for inclusion guides his commitment to ensuring different perspectives are heard during decision-making processes as well as identifying opportunities for junior colleagues.

Judges Special COVID-19 award

Technical Services Operational Support

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During the pandemic, Technical Services went above and beyond to secure and supply PPE and provide guidance to operational colleagues, all whilst keeping up with their business-as-usual work to maintain an effective response.

This wasn’t an easy feat: with national shortages of the required PPE and no secured supply lines, it was an uphill battle to ensure our crews and the public were protected during the pandemic.

Chief Fire Officer Chris Bigland added: “The standard of nominations gets higher every year, and while all the nominations were excellent, the chosen winners were well deserved.

“We were pleased to introduce a special COVID-19 category this year to reward some of the excellent work of staff across the directorate in response to the pandemic.

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"It’s been a difficult 18 months for everyone, but we’re really proud of the way Community Protection staff rose to the challenge.”

The awards were made possible by our event sponsors, Bristol Uniforms, Emergency One, and Clan Tools & Plant Limited, and to our award sponsors Capita and PBI Performance Products, who provided funding to ensure to ensure the work of our staff was recognised.

Cllr Morris Bright, Executive Member for Community Safety, said: “The HEART awards are a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the excellent work taking place across Hertfordshire and to thank those who have been involved.

"Everyone who was nominated for an award has made a huge contribution to their community and they should be incredibly proud of their achievements.”

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