"What a great night for our Search and Rescue team last
night. They were the winners of the Pride of Britain award for 2010
for their work in Haiti just after the New Year started. I
have said a few things over the last few days about the negative
coverage we have had in the media as a consequence of the London
Dispute and so it's a real joy to be able to talk about a
celebration of what the Service does best.
It was also interesting in the sense that whilst it was a
recognition of the work they did on the other side of the world a
few months ago - just a week earlier many of them were undertaking
similar work just round the corner on the streets of Irlam -
following a huge gas explosion.
"I guess all of this illustrates extremely well that the days of
firefighters being "water squirters" - a particularly negative term
used by newspapers just a few years ago - are well and truly
gone. Today's firefighters must be flexible and
adaptable - indeed prepared to work almost anywhere in
the world. They must possess an enormous range of skills and
expertise but, crucially, be able to use their initiative and take
action in truly difficult situations - and they really don't
come more difficult than Haiti.
"The awards ceremony will be on TV on Wednesday evening -
please tune in to see the team receive their awards. All our
firefighters are the Pride of Greater Manchester - its really
great to see them honoured as the Pride of Britain."