CFO Wilshire's published comments on JOIFF member Kelvin Hardingham were based on 'clear inaccuracies'

Published:  01 June, 2007

JOIFF would not wish to see this matter develop into one of needless tit-for-tat letter writing but we feel that due to the significant contribution from industry at the Buncefield incident, particularly from JOIFF Members, we would be failing in our duty to our members in not adding the necessary clarity to this matter which appears to be required.

It is assumed from the comments made by CFO Wilshire in that article that his position is one informed by information conveyed to him rather than from eyewitness accounts as there are clear inaccuracies in his letter which in themselves are a matter of regret.
Without exploring the whole of the letter, we wish to refer to the involvement of JOIFF Member Kelvin Hardingham and clarify the reason for Mr Hardingham’s attendance and the role he played during his time at the scene.
Kelvin’s presence requested by the ODPM
We can confirm that in the early stages of the Buncefield incident, a JOIFF member was contacted by the UK Office of the Deputy Prime Minister seeking information regarding the status of the professional industrial firefighting capabilities within the UK. During the conversation, they commented to the ODPM that JOIFF Member Williams Fire and Hazard Control had a UK representative (Mr Hardingham) available and willing to attend the scene in an operational capacity to provide expert support.
This support was subsequently requested formally by the ODPM. Mr Hardingham’s attendance was not requested by Essex Fire and Rescue Service as was stated in the article in the Industrial Fire World article.
JOIFF has consulted its members who attended the incident at Buncefield to clarify the position of Mr Hardingham throughout the duration of the incident and they confirmed that Mr Hardingham had a significant command role, actively directing firefighting operations and was a key industrial figure liaising between Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) operations firefighting coordinator and the incident commander, located at bronze command.
CFO Wilshire stated that: “As Mr Hardingham has no role in the command structure he would have no detailed knowledge in the command discussions, especially at those at Gold situated 15 miles from the scene”. This is correct in so as far as he had no formal nominated role in the HFRS Incident Command System, he was directly involved in the Incident Command System of the industrial fire services on scene, which should have been recognised and recorded as an integral part of the HFRS Incident Command System.
JOIFF seeks to improve industry relations
Mr Hardingham’s contribution to the decision making process at Bronze Command was such that effective decisions could be made on the basis of sound, professional advice which he repeatedly provided. It is widely recognised by those who were present that if such advice had been absent, the efficacy of bronze decision-making would have been severely hampered and as such it is disingenuous to suggest that he played no effective role at this level.
JOIFF is at a loss as to why the opportunity should be taken to criticise one of our members and feel it is not in the interests of improving relations between local authority fire services and industry to do so. The outcome of the collaborative response to Buncefield should be recognition of the success that can be achieved by working together not seeking to score points retaining credit which may be due to others.
JOIFF invites Applications for Membership
Membership of JOIFF is open to any Organisation with nominated personnel as occupational firefighters / emergency responders / hazard management team members who provide cover to industrial/commercial organisations. Organisations who do not fully comply with these requirements are welcome to apply for Corporate Membership of JOIFF.
Membership of JOIFF offers a forum for discussion and shared learning through its email network to to ensure that members benefit from the misfortunes of some and make certain the same mistakes are not repeated.

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