As Fire and Rescue Service staff carry out Covid-19 antigen testing, drive non-blue light ambulance transport and carry out ambulance driver training, FIRE focuses on fire and rescue activity across the country
Fire and rescue services to take on more activities to support fight against Covid-19
These are in addition to other activities already agreed in a ground-breaking agreement between the National Fire Chiefs Council, National Employers and the Fire Brigades Union.
The three organisations have agreed the additional activities:
- Assisting in taking samples for Covid-19 antigen testing
- Driving ambulance transport not on blue-lights (excluding known Covid-19 patients) to outpatient appointments or to receive urgent care
- Driving instruction by FRS driver trainers to deliver training for non-service personnel to drive ambulances (not on blue lights).
NFCC Chair Roy Wilsher said: “Once again, we see our fire and rescue services staff being ready, willing and able to take on additional work to support the response to Covid-19.
“Their dedication and commitment is outstanding. Staff want to be at the heart of the response, using their wide range of skills and capabilities. Services want to support communities across the UK, which the public quite rightly expect us to do.
“By working together, we are playing our part in supporting the COVID-19 response and making sure we can offer a world-class response to the public, the health service and other partners.
“We look forward to carrying out this work, while continuing to respond to major incidents and carrying out other vital work, including core duties.
Other work undertaken by fire and rescue service staff includes: carrying out face fitting for masks (to be used by frontline NHS and clinical staff); delivery of personal protective equipment and other medical supplies; assisting the ambulance service with driving and patient/ambulance support; moving deceased people and supporting the most vulnerable through deliveries. Further activities are also under discussion.
Chiefs launch ‘Ready, Willing and Able’ campaign
The National Fire Chiefs Council has launched its ReadyWillingAble campaign. The idea is to show the UK’s fire and rescue services are going the extra mile and taking on additional activities to protect and support their communities during the Covid-19 pandemic
Backed by the Home Office, firefighters and other Fire Service staff across the country will be sharing stories and video on their websites and social media to highlight how they are using their wide range of skills to provide community reassurance and help in response to the national crisis.
As well as continuing to respond to emergency calls and carry out their core duties, it has been agreed that fire and rescue staff will also assist the ambulance service with emergency ambulance driving, support the most vulnerable through food deliveries, carry out ‘face fitting’ for masks used by health care workers and deliver PPE and medical supplies.
Roy Wilsher, Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council, said: “Fire and rescue services across the UK are renowned for responding professionally to the unexpected and this national crisis is no different.
“We are very proud of crews and other staff for stepping forward, using their wide-range of capabilities and skills to ensure community reassurance and support, while continuing to respond to emergencies, during Covid-19.
“Fire and rescue services have a ‘can do’ ethic and the skills and capability to carry out this work. The commitment to their communities during this critical time is a reflection of their continued humanity and care.”
Home Office Minister for Security James Brokenshire said: “Fire and rescue services have a crucial role to play in the response to Coronavirus and keeping us all safe.
“We welcome this campaign to highlight the fantastic work they are doing to protect our communities and support those who are most vulnerable.”
NFCC’s Ready Willing Able campaign is being rolled out by the UK’s fire and rescue services on their websites and social media channels using #ReadyWillingAble.
Yorkshire firefighters support ambulance service
Yorkshire Ambulance Service has welcomed additional Covid-19 support from fire and rescue colleagues
Firefighter colleagues from the region’s four fire and rescue services will be joining Yorkshire Ambulance Service to provide additional support during the current coronavirus pandemic.
The 48 volunteers (12 from each fire and rescue service: North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and Humberside) will be carrying out tasks including driving ambulances and other support roles.
This move follows a recent agreement between the National Employers, National Fire Chiefs Council and the Fire Brigades Union to support local authorities and the NHS.
Commenting on this development, Nick Smith, Executive Director of Operations at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “We have always enjoyed a close working relationship with our fire and rescue service colleagues through the many incidents we attend jointly on a daily basis and through our collaborative approach to large scale emergency situations.
“During this unprecedented period, and arguably the greatest challenge the NHS has ever faced, we are extremely grateful for the additional support being provided by the region’s fire and rescue services. It means that we will have greater flexibility and resilience in our approach over the coming weeks to ensure patients receive the care they need.”
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson commented: “As a service we are here to make South Yorkshire safer and stronger. We could not be more willing, and able to help out in any way we can during these extremely challenging times.
“Our firefighters are trained to an extremely high standard. They have a huge amount of experience in driving blue light vehicles and are very well respected in their local communities. I’m hugely proud of them all and know they will do a fantastic job when called upon.”
Shared emergency services teams take on new roles to protect Norfolk’s public
Norfolk’s emergency services have committed to new ways of working together and sharing resources to fight the current pandemic and keep the county’s communities as safe as possible
While all blue light partners regularly work together in the line of duty, the commitment to mutual support has stepped up a gear in recent weeks and this has now been cemented by the signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding, which defines how the services can best jointly support Norfolk’s communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chief Fire Officer Stuart Ruff said: “We have never been more committed to working as one blue light family. This pandemic has drawn on us all to make the most of Norfolk’s emergency resources, to support our communities in every way we can to best protect the public and keep people safe during this crisis. We will do whatever we can to support ambulance and police colleagues by taking on some additional duties, while maintaining our own effective emergency response on the front line.”
Changes already in place, as part of a national agreement, include the use of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) firefighters driving ambulances for the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) which started a fortnight ago and using large lorries to transport critical NHS medical supplies around the region so that hospitals and additional ambulances have all the kit required.
Norfolk FRS has temporarily adapted the way it responds to certain incidents. These additional changes include:
- Supporting colleagues from Norfolk Police by responding to an increased number of road traffic collisions
- Attending incidents on major road networks to assist the police where there is a risk to the public
- Attending forced entry calls, where access is needed to a premises by ambulance staff in order to be able to treat a patient in a medical emergency.
Jointly, Norfolk Police and NFRS are now supplying driving instructors to train an additional 250 people to drive patient transport ambulances. Those being trained include additional EEAST staff including student paramedics, military personnel and community first responders.
Further worked planned includes NFRS staff supporting communities, working with colleagues at Norfolk County Council to deliver medicines and other vital goods to local people as part of a collective response. Some NFRS staff are already volunteering for such community projects.
Chief Constable Simon Bailey said: “There is already a close bond between emergency services in Norfolk and in any major incident we work together for a common purpose, which is helping people. It is essential our organisations maintain the ability to respond to the public whenever and wherever they need us in an emergency and this agreement strengthens that relationship even further.”
Marcus Bailey, Chief Operating Officer with EEAST, said: “We are very grateful to our blue light colleagues and look forward to working closely with them to keep our patients, staff, volunteers and the wider public safe during this pandemic. Covid-19 represents an unprecedented challenge for all of us and we truly appreciate the fantastic support we have received from our blue light partners, the public, businesses and other partners.”
Norfolk County Council Leader, Councillor Andrew Proctor, said: “This new Memorandum of Understanding builds on our previous collaboration work and is a shining example of our blue light services pulling together for the whole of Norfolk. I would like to thank the staff of all our emergency services for the way they are continuing to work tirelessly to keep Norfolk safe.”
Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Lorne Green, said: “I welcome this excellent news which reflects the progress made around collaboration between our blue light services. This Memorandum of Understanding is a way of reassuring the public that their safety and protection is of paramount importance and is upheld in a consistent and professional manner. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all emergency service workers across Norfolk for the unfailing commitment they continue to show in the most challenging of circumstances.”
All Norfolk’s emergency services continue to urge people to carry on playing their part in helping the NHS by taking extra care of themselves, only going out for essential items, observing advice about hand-washing and maintaining social distancing.
Kent FRS supports Age UK delivering hot meals during pandemic
Working with Age UK, Kent Fire and Rescue Service’s operational firefighters and support staff have volunteered their time to help out, and have been taking food to individuals
Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) personnel are wearing appropriate protective equipment and following strict hygiene protocols to ensure they are protecting the high-risk customers they are delivering to, and themselves.
The fire service has initially committed to assisting Age UK for two weeks and will keep this under review in line with operational need.
Kent Fire and Rescue Service Group Manager Karen Pointer said: “We’re really pleased to be able to help Age UK in delivering this vital service to those who need it most in the community.
“Around 200 Kent Fire and Rescue Service personnel, both operational and support staff, have put themselves forward as volunteers to help with aid working during this pandemic, and we hope to be able to support a range of charities and organisations to provide vital services for as long as this goes on for.
“We are, of course, completely on top of hygiene and infection control, and it’s something we are taking really seriously with our volunteers, and indeed all our frontline staff who continue to serve the Kent community.”
Hayley Ross, Age UK Service Manager for Hythe and Lyminge, said: “We are extremely grateful for the support provided by Kent Fire and Rescue. They have so far assisted in the delivery of over 500 hot meals to our local community during this crisis and are offering ongoing support to continue helping those most vulnerable in our local communities.”
Ambulance Service Support
Kent firefighters are supporting their blue light colleagues in the fight against Covid-19 by lending their services to the wider community. Crews and staff at KDRS are working alongside South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) to help meet the growing demand on medical response across the county, as a result of the worldwide pandemic.
Firefighters underwent training before being deployed to drive ambulances, while other KFRS employees have been helping to deliver medical supplies and equipment, as well as prescriptions and medicines to those most in need.
Mark Rist, Assistant Director for Response at KFRS, said: “Here in Kent, we are fortunate to already have a mature and established relationship with SECAmb. Our firefighters have interchangeable emergency skills and are trained to a SECAmb standard, and we also share properties with the ambulance service, so this is an obvious role extension for us during this pandemic.”
Kent FRS began driving five large vehicles to and from SECAmb’s distribution centre in Kent, so larger quantities of medical supplies can be delivered to paramedics and hospitals, seven-days-a-week.
Mark added: “For non-operational staff who are unable to continue with their usual day job, such as our response vehicle driving instructors, this is an opportunity to provide essential work and assist our communities.
“We all want to help where and when we can, and to unite Kent together.”
Firefighters who are qualified to drive an emergency vehicle and meet the necessary criteria to volunteer as an ambulance driver have undergone training with SECAmb to familiarise themselves with the lifesaving vehicle, before they will be paired with a paramedic on set shifts.
In addition, fire crews and KFRS colleagues will be delivering medicine, prescriptions and food to those most at risk, as well as offering support at district hubs and food banks, while still being available to respond to emergencies.
To ensure KFRS teams remain safe and responsible while out in the community, staff are observing social distancing guidelines and regularly washing hands and using hand sanitiser.
The enhanced partnership between fire and ambulance services across the UK comes in response to the scale of the national crisis and the urgency of the response required.
SECAmb’s Executive Director of Operations Joe Garcia said: “I would like to thank our colleagues from Kent Fire and Rescue for the logistical support they have already provided with helping transport items across our region.
“We have been fortunate that we have been able to build on an already existing strong relationship. I am pleased further partnership work and training will be taking place and I know this strengthened relationship will prove even more vital in the weeks ahead.”
Tyne and Wear FRS recruits adhere to social distancing
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service report on the unique aspect to its first recruits’ course of 2020
Twenty-four future firefighters are now undergoing an intensive 14-week course at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service’s (TWFRS) Training Centre in Barmston, Washington. However, this course will be unique amongst all that have gone before, as both the training centre instructors and recruits will be adhering to social distancing, by ensuring that they are at least two metres apart.
Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the service was committed to running the course, as long as the necessary restrictions were put in place to ensure that everyone involved was able to keep a safe distance.
The service has already run refresher courses, under the current Covid-19 restrictions, for returning retired firefighters and other operational staff, and felt confident that the recruits’ course could continue as planned.
Chief Fire Officer Chris Lowther commented: “I’m really pleased to welcome the 24 men and women here today, taking their first exciting steps to become a firefighter. This is an intensive course which will see them attain the vital professional skills needed to help them become firefighters.
“However, what they will also gain is strong camaraderie with their fellow recruits, which will last throughout their entire careers. It is this team spirit which will give them the strength to get through the course and ensure that they are there for each other.
“It is also the same team spirit that I am seeing throughout the service by both operational and non-operational staff. All of whom are stepping up to the plate to continue to deliver a first-class fire and rescue service for the communities of Tyne and Wear, as well as respond to the challenges they face during the pandemic.
“I’d also like to thank our training centre instructors for making the necessary changes to the course to allow us to deliver it safely for all concerned.”
Chris concluded: “This is an unprecedented time in all of our lives. Our recruits are joining us at a time when our skills and ability to protect our communities are facing unique challenges. While they may only be witnesses to these challenges, I know they will learn from them – as we all will – and make them better prepared for the career that lies before them.”
Avon FRS creates fire safety competition
Avon FRS reports on creating something fun but also educational for children to get them thinking about fire safety whilst at home
The service launched a colouring competition to help engage the younger members of the communities during the lockdown. The criteria were simple: colour in the fire engine, send your entry to in and staff would pick a winner.
Staff from across the service were impressed by the volume of entries received and also with the ideas and colouring skills. Due to the number of entries, it was a very difficult choice to pick one winner so staff chose four winning categories by age-range and included some special mentions.
Simon Shilton, Assistant Chief Fire Officer for Avon FRS, said: “We know that these are extremely challenging times for our communities, so we wanted to do something fun and educational. Across the service area we normally provide education in schools for various age ranges, along with educational games and other forms of engagement from station open days to community visits.
“Even in times like this, it’s important that children and parents talk about fire safety and what to do in an emergency. We thought a short colouring completion would go some way to engaging children and help foster those conversations.
“We were delighted by the number of entries across age ranges and we will deliver prizes when it is safe to do so.”
In addition, Avon FRS is rewarding Mary Elton Primary School in Clevedon for submitting some “cracking” entries and staying open to support key workers. The service will send a fire engine to the school once it is safe to do so.
Finally, Avon FRS would like to give a special mention to six-year-old Noah Jordan-Boyce who has some additional needs and therefore finds colouring in challenging. He submitted an entry nonetheless to make the staff smile. Avon FRS will invite him and his family to their nearest station once this is over for a private tour.
West Sussex FRS to support ambulance service during Covid-19
Staff at West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service are supporting their blue light colleagues in the fight against Covid-19 by providing support to South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb)
A team of four members of fire service staff will be deployed to provide logistical support to ambulance colleagues. The team will be collecting personal protective equipment and other essential clinical supplies from SECAmb’s logistics base near Tunbridge Wells and distributing it to their three ambulance service ‘Make Ready’ stations in West Sussex: Worthing, Tangmere and Gatwick.
The four members of staff work in the fire service’s training team. Due to the current pandemic, their normal way of working has changed and they are able to support ambulance service colleagues. Their support will be on a rota basis without causing disruption to how the team functions.
Chief Fire Officer Sabrina Cohen-Hatton said: “I’m proud that people in our fire service have volunteered to take on additional critical roles during this crisis to support colleagues in SECAmb.
“These are unprecedented times, and we all want to help where and when we can to keep people in our communities as safe as we can.”
SECAmb Executive Director of Operations Joe Garcia said: “We already have strong working relationships with our fire service colleagues and I would like to thank West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service for being able to provide this additional logistical support. It is very much appreciated and will help us boost our distribution capacity across our region.”
Other ways that West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service staff could support SECAmb are being developed.
Avon FRS warns against deliberate fires
Avon FRS is warning against deliberate fires after several callouts since lockdown began
Despite the current government guidance on staying at home to help alleviate the Coronavirus pandemic, Avon FRS continues to be called to mindless cases of arson that put both crews and the community in danger.
Since the start of the government’s stay at home directive on March 23, crews have attended 58 deliberate fires across the service area. Avon FRS is urging for the public’s supports now more than ever but also warning those thinking about a deliberate fire that they will be caught.
Simon Shilton, Assistant Chief Fire Officer for AF&RS, said: “It is so disappointing to see that at a time when we all need to be coming together to support one another we still have people committing crimes and ruining our local communities.
“We often attend fires that are started deliberately that present significant risks, not only to those that start them and are around the area but to the crews that are sent to tackle them.
“Now more than ever we would urge people to not start a fire intentionally as it could have severe consequences. Not only is it a crime that can carry a significant sentence, but our crews would potentially be unable to get to another emergency.
“The service’s resources need to be available to respond to any fires in the home and support with humanitarian aid for vulnerable people in our communities.
“We are pleading with the public to support us to remove arson from our communities. This is an ideal opportunity for communities to get behind us on the zero tolerance to arsonists. “We all need to work together to tackle arson – it is everyone’s problem.
“And importantly, at this time, everyone should be staying at home and only venturing out for essential journeys.”
Latest figures show there were 1,329 deliberate fires across Avon in 2019/20. These fires were predominately rubbish and refuse, grassland and vehicles.