FIRE Correspondent Tony Prosser reports on the crisis facing on-call recruitment, the consequences for public and firefighter safety, and where cutbacks could lead next.
The enduring disaster that is Covid-19 has had a number of effects on the Fire and Rescue Service, not all of them bad. The number of fires in the home were initially reduced as occupation increased due to home working, furlough and lockdown. The number of road accidents did decrease also but then re-emerged as the lack of traffic encouraged some drivers to race at excessive speed with predictable outcomes.
Another of the positives is that the availability of on-call firefighters has gone up for the same reasons and has been a bonus in the 80 per cent or so of the country whose primary fire and emergency response is provided by on-call firefighters. When (and not if – a cliché often used) life returns to the “new normal” will the availability return to the status quo? Is the current model of UK fire and emergency response the best that can be achieved and is it still sustainable? Or, given that it originated in Victorian times in most areas, is it time to revisit the mix of on-call and wholetime Fire and Rescue Service provision for the 21st century?
Read the full article on our digital issue, pages 33-36.