The one thing I can be absolutely confident about,” said Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, “is that, by this time next month, there is going to be the mother of all arguments.” Professor Spiegelhalter was referring to the intensive care units continuing to be strained at the same time as the country will be witnessing the benefits of the vaccine, amidst mounting calls for the easing of lockdown.

There will be an inevitable conflict with pressure to return children to school and get society back on an even keel, but he warns: “Loosening it up will inevitably lead to an increase in cases, a resurgence of the pandemic among younger groups, and we can see then that does seep through into hospitalisations. So there’s going to be a real battle going on.”

In case you thought fire hovered above the fray, HM Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services Zoë Billingham and FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack entered into a right old ding dong in producing the Fire Service’s own “mother and father of all rows” with fire services allegedly held back from fully supporting the public (see opposite). In response the FBU claim the Inspectorate is doing the bidding of government and fire chiefs in the “political and biased attack on firefighters” (see pg 6).

The set-to somewhat undermines the government’s praise (also on pg 6) as Fire Minister Lord Stephen Greenhalgh said: “I am immensely proud of the contributions of firefighters and FRS staff during the pandemic.” So is FIRE magazine as we’ve been essaying the vast array of initiatives undertaken that not only serves to underline the “can-do” attitude of fire personnel but also the often-unheralded ingenuity as evidenced in the Inspectorate’s letters to each FRS. It’s well worth a quick scan to uncover the significant activity:

The headlines clamber for our attention and we are bound to report all fire-related news but the detail in this story is the area that needs further excavation. Our correspondent digs deeper than the ‘Firefighters as vaccinators?’ headline suggests (see pg 15) and focuses on services providing personnel, logistical support and premises for vaccination, such as West Sussex’s deployment of its mass decontamination tent as part of a vaccination centre.

The NFCC has conducted its own research into the fire and rescue response to the first wave (see pg 18), offering glimpses into initial response including the ‘mixed feelings’ of chief officers to the first iteration of the tripartite agreement. One aspect which has rapidly progressed for many services is in digital transformation, as reported on pg 49. Our correspondent reports on how technology is revolutionising the way fire and rescue services operate. One such example is Mid and West Wales using Microsoft Surface Go devices. As CFO Chris Davies says: “It’s simple uses of technology like that which are really changing how our service operates to meet the needs of today’s world.”

As FIRE magazine rolls out our ‘Fire for All’ offer for all personnel, a central aim is to pique the curiosity of fire personnel to dig deeper and delve beyond the fray. This issue is an open invitation.