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MBE for IOSH member behind firefighter fatality guidance

13 June 2019

AN IOSH member who developed guidance for fire service employees dealing with firefighter fatalities has been awarded an MBE.

Veronica Adlam was prompted to write Death in the Workplace Guidance after investigating a tower block fire at Harrow Court in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, which killed two firefighters and a member of the public.

The health and safety manager at Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) felt there was a gap in support for health and safety professionals and other employees in fire services facing the loss of colleagues in tragic circumstances.

Her guidance was initially shared with colleagues in other nearby fire services before being rolled out and published as national guidance in May 2013.

Veronica’s name was included in the list of MBE recipients in The Queen’s Birthday Honours, published last week, though she was informed about the award last month.

She said: “I was astonished, but I feel incredibly privileged and humbled to accept this accolade for ‘services to firefighter safety’.”

Veronica joined Hertfordshire FRS in July 2000 as its first non-uniformed health and safety advisor. She progressed to become health and safety manager while also becoming a Chartered Member of IOSH in November 2005.

As well as the Harrow Court fire in February 2005, she has taken part in many other investigations into serious fires. She says her number one priority has always been improving working conditions for firefighters.

She said: “In June 2007, a fire officer was killed whilst attending a minor car fire on the A1(M) and I worked with a senior officer on the internal accident investigation. I have also provided peer support for a number of colleagues across the country in various fire and rescue services involved in serious and fatal safety event investigations. I continue to support, and be supported by, regional colleagues.

“Following the Harrow Court investigation, having learned a lot from the experience, I felt there was a gap in direction for professionals in my position and for fire services who may experience firefighter fatalities. So, during 2006 I drew up internal guidance and procedures for investigating fatal safety events.

“The guidance is now undergoing a review, but I am proud to say I was the initiator of this document as a useful ‘hand-book’ for fire and rescue service colleagues.”

Veronica was also involved in the development of another publication by the Chief Fire Officers Association, called Health, Safety and Welfare Framework for the Operational Environment.

Meanwhile, Liz Darlison, director of services at Mesothelioma UK, a supporter of IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign, has also been awarded an MBE. Liz has been given the honour for services to cancer research and patients.