For the first "Meet the Trustee" of 2023 we thought we would introduce our newest Trustee, Adrian Hutt. Adrian joined the CO Research Trust in December 2022 and brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience from his many years working in the Fire Services.

Adrian Hutt, Trustee
Adrian Hutt, Trustee

Adrian, welcome to the CO Research Trust. Please tell us, how many years have you worked in the Fire Services and what roles have you held?

After serving in the Royal Navy from 1981, I joined the fire service in 1993 and worked at numerous operational fire stations throughout the West Midlands.

From 2010 I took lead roles in the delivery, research engagement and enhancement of our carbon monoxide prevention messaging to deliver our organisational and Marmot objectives regarding health inequalities. I later became the Gas & CO lead for the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) until my retirement from the service in 2020.

What has been the highlight for you in your career?

During my career I have faced many challenging and stressful situations, some of which will never leave you. But the highs outweigh those due to the people I have worked with and how they have contributed and shaped the ever-changing role of today’s fire service and making peoples environments safer.

During your career what involvement have you had specifically worked with CO-related projects?

Primarily my initial focus was understanding CO as dangerous gas due to the unburnt products of combustion in an operational firefighting setting and the hazards this posed to fire behaviour and the safety of firefighters. However, since 2010 I took on additional roles and volunteered to continually work on enhancing my Brigades CO prevention messaging and promoting the use of CO personal monitors for blue light users during post-fire incidents and whilst delivering prevention advice within occupants’ homes and workplaces.

I was my Brigade lead for the “Achieving Marmot CO project” working alongside several local authorities and Liverpool John Moore’s University. This was followed by working with Beth Cheshire from Lancaster University on her Neuropsychological effects of chronic low-level CO exposure in older adults “the cognitive effects” until completion in 2020.

I subsequently joined a research team headed by Hilary Waring in the delivery of the Carbon Monoxide in Pregnancy study to link and train several fire services across the country to support this research project.

What has been the biggest change you have witnessed during your career concerning CO safety, both positive and negative?

With the development of social media initiatives and A.I technology the CO safety message is reaching different sectors and demographics across society which was previously missed or perceived as hard to reach. I have witnessed joint sector working which is also spreading the prevention message further within different organisations.

However, I would like to see more multi-organisation and data-sharing collaboration which would put CO awareness on a higher footing and in a stronger position for future changes in practices.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the Fire Services with regard to CO safety?

I recognise each fire service has different demographics, priorities and financial restraints but I see one of the biggest challenges is to implement a consistent CO strategy across the country which not only includes awareness but the use of personal monitors for blue light and care professionals to ensure personnel are operating in safe environments and to include this within their core business and prevention agendas.

What would it be if you could make one change that would improve CO safety?

Whilst I would like to see an increase in CO alarm ownership across all tenures in the UK to match that of current smoke alarm ownership, if I could make one change to CO safety then I would like to see more evidence-based approaches in the recognition, identification and hazards relating to the “Low-level long term” exposure of CO.

I would encourage the industry to develop their technologies to act on lower levels in order to focus on healthy environments instead of just perceived safety levels.

What are you most looking forward to about working with the CO Research Trust?

My background is from the emergency services and the delivery side of operational interventions or prevention messaging. I am looking forward to viewing how “Practice can Influence Research & how Research can influence Practices” along with working with other members within the Trust and learning from the range of knowledge, experience and skillsets they hold.