The LGA Fire conference in Blackpool proved to be the last time that Fire and Rescue Service leaders would gather before Coronavirus changed the world as we know it. At this point the government was in the contain phase of managing the virus, but shortly after, on March 12, announced that it was moving to the delay phase, raising the risk to the UK from moderate to high. Washing hands was the key message and social distancing had not yet dominated people’s lives.

The next date in the fire calendar would have been the May elections where the four police fire and crime commissioners were up for re-election, although North Yorkshire PFCC Julia Mulligan and Staffordshire PFCC Matthew Ellis had already announced they would not stand again. On March 13 the government confirmed that the PCC, local and mayoral elections would be postponed until May 2021.

Read the full article on our digital issue, pages 12-14.