This week we’ve been filming with Wiltshire Fire Brigade looking at the valuable, but often unseen work, done by the fire safety specialists.
A team within the fire brigade works day in day out, trying to prevent fires and accidents. They go into schools, into colleges, into homes and can go into businesses, organisations to talk about safety on the road, in the home, on boats…the list goes on. The skills and the practical hints and tips they can give are worth listening to…How many of us think about what these officers, both male and female, can offer in terms of training? Debbie, who goes into primary schools, to speak to children about fire safety was awesome. Anyone who can not only hold, but fascinate, a class of seven-year-olds for more than an hour deserves huge respect.
Today I learned what to do if my clothes caught on fire, what to do to check if a fire is behind a door, how to get out of a house safely in a fire. I’d already had a fire officer look around a house and offer advice about smoke alarms, safe practice in the kitchen, planning escape routes, where keys should be left….I could go on. But now I know what to do with my body if that very rare house fire occurs.
As part of my research, I’ve also found out that Wiltshire Fire Brigade works closely with the British Red Cross which provides 24-hour support for people caught up in the trauma of a house fire or flood. The fire officers will call out the BRC team and they will attend night or day – and all of them are volunteers. I’m going to blog more on this later so watch this space.
Our grand vision for the fire safety fiming, was to do a shot of the team and all of the vehicles at their disposal. This meant that we had five fire engines, a four-wheel drive car, a little white van, a British Cross support vehicle, a BMW complete with blue lights and a boat. We allowed two hours to get this one shot right and to arrange the vehicles in an arc. It was great fun.
Vehicles getting into position with my thumb at top of frame!...
But here are a few tips I’d like to share with you when doing a ‘key shot’ for any filming:
Whatever time you’ve planned to arrange the shot – double it.
A good cameraman will look for the most inaccessible shot and go for it – be prepared to follow.
Don’t go to the top of a very high tower on a cold, foggy March morning without gloves or without having visited the loo.
Take into account the last time you climbed a very high tower – in your 20s it’s easy, in your 40s, it’s a lot scarier.
Taking lots of heavy kit up a very high tower is not easy – bring along an extra pair of hands.
Swindon's magic roundabout from top of high tower!
Coming down wobbly ladders is a lot more terrifying than going up – especially when your hands are so cold, you are not sure if you’ve got fingers any more.
From these few tips, you can probably guess that we got some of these things completely right and others, while not quite so right. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating and the shots we captured are wonderful. However, my own personal shots from the iPhone were a bit ropey – probably due to numb fingers, or that’s my excuse.
All in all, today showed the joy of a portfolio career, you just never know what you are going to do, who you are going to meet or what the camera is going to show you…
Today many children went back to school – as a mum of three, I have three of these days to deal with this year as all three children are at different stages.
Today will possibly be the most long-winded and it reminded me of the trauma that many working parents feel when they are trying to do the right things for their children at school – and get to work on time. It’s a daily battle.
Being self-employed I’ve deliberately kept all three days as free as possible and I’ve not regretted it. After years of children at school, I finally found that it’s best to be as free as possible on days like today. It’s brought the stress down to a bearable level.
Last Friday it was first child to secondary school – getting up far too early, stressing about uniform, putting a tie on for the first time and the horror of my daughter in realising that she has to master this every day for the next few years! What a trauma. Then it’s the ‘what if’ period – what if I can’t find my friends? what if I get lost? what if I can’t find the toilets? what if I’ve forgotten my PE kit?
Notice that these ‘what ifs’ are not the same as us parents? Like, ‘what if the work is too hard? or what if my child gets bullied? or what if my child is naughty?’
What I did not have to do was take my child to school – no it’s now an early bus there and back, but that brings it’s own trauma about safety, on the road and on the bus.
Still we got over that day and today it was child number 2.
This trip is a move from Yr 4 to Yr 5 of a very laid-back child who is having a new teacher and some new cardigans but everything else is familiar.
However, what a parent so easily forgets over the summer is the hurdles one has to deal with in simply getting your child to school.
The traffic is worse and finding a parking space that a) isn’t a daft and unsafe place to park b) isn’t inconsiderate to residents. And then there’s always the risk that residents will simply object to you parking outside their house, even if it’s not unsafe or illegal to do so. I had this the other day (not on a school day) but on a new estate where there were no road markings at all. I was a visitor to the area, there were no yellow lines, no parking signs at all but a resident wrote me a snotty note and put it on my windscreen informing me that I should ‘park round the back or else’. Clearly he or she thought I was psychic and would know by osmosis that there were parking spaces elsewhere.
Back to today, my child gave me a quick kiss and disappeared, eager to see her friends and to find her way around a new classroom.
I then had to have at least five conversations with other parents about their particular experiences. Some clearly were parents who were short of adult company over the previous six weeks. I had the time, so it was no problem. But when you are working it’s so rude to say ‘that’s great, bye!’. Then I remembered her new cardigans and also the medical form for her asthma medication.
On entering the school office, there was a queue of mums waiting to do similar things.
I could see those eager to be away, hopping from one foot to another – knowing how they felt, I was relaxed about letting them jump the queue.
But then the form-filling – is it really necessary to fill out at least two forms saying the same thing? My child has asthma, she can self-administer her medication when she needs it – which is about once a week. She’s proficient at it, she’s learning to carry her inhalers herself at all times – but she’s not allowed to at school. This I know and accept. But there must be a more efficient way of dealing with this. There was one form and then another, both asking the same thing. This exercise took about 20 minutes and then I had to wait for her new cardigans – luckily that took about a minute.
So my youngest child was pretty bored by the time we left school at about 9.30am – goodness knows what it will be like on Friday when he starts for the first time. I’ll be lucky to get a coffee in before I’ve got to pick him up at lunchtime. Oh joy!
First day at school can seem like a long, uphill slog
Would you let your child cycle on this road?
News that Bristol City Council is encouraging schemes to help children play out in their local street is heartening.
It seems that the Council are going to make it easier to temporarily close a road to all but residents cars by reworking the legislation that is used for street parties. I shall be watching this with interest – think of the difference it could make to family life.
Cycling is particularly difficult for kids in the city as to get them somewhere safe to practise riding on their bikes requires transporting them and the bikes in a car. On Sunday we did what many parents in our area do, we packed three bikes onto a rack on the back of the car and drove to a safe local park where they could cycle. Its fine when you’re there, but what a hassle to do something that was so easy to do many years ago.
It’s so different now to when I grew up. As a child I played in the streets around the estate I lived on and was sent outside to play with the instruction to come in when it was dinnertime. There was never any idea that my parents would take us somewhere special to ride our bikes. It was unheard of. If there was a dangerous road to cross we cycled on the pavement – something that is frowned upon now.
The big difference is the sheer amount of traffic on the roads and the safety implications that brings. It is quite understandable that no parent would let their young child play or cycle near dangerous levels of fast moving traffic. So if there is a scheme that can help with providing an environment is which kids can easily play outside and on their bikes without danger, I think it’s time to support it.
Imagine the impact it could have if it were made a national scheme.