Fire Marmot 180Three fire and rescue services have been presented with an award from the author of the government's Strategic Review of Health Inequalities, Sir Michael Marmot, for their work with partners to reduce health inequalities.

The Marmot Partnership Status was awarded at the MF&RS Headquarters in Bootle for the work that West Midlands, Merseyside and Cheshire FRSs carried out to prevent ill health and to reduce health inequalities.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Mark Cashin, from Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We are delighted that our hard work with health and social care organisations has been recognised. We are very proud of these partnerships, which are not only making people safer in their own homes but also improving the health and wellbeing of many vulnerable people.

“In addition to fitting free smoke alarms and providing vital safety advice, we view all home safety checks as opportunities to highlight potentially vulnerable people to organisations such as Age UK to make sure that they are supported. We are committed to continuing our work with other organisations to improve the safety of our communities and look forward to building upon the success we have had so far.”

Further reading: Editor Andrew Lynch consider Fire's Health Service in his latest blog here

The Marmot Partnership was awarded to the 3 fire and rescue services in recognition of their work to improve the social circumstances and health of individuals living in their communities. This work has been done in close collaboration with the UCL Institute of Health Equity and followed the evidence on how to reduce health inequalities by taking action on the social determinants of health improving the conditions in which people are born, live, work, grow and age. The evidence was laid out in the 2010 British government commissioned review of health inequalities in England, Fair Society, Healthy Lives, chaired by Professor Sir Michael Marmot.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has worked with partners across the health and social care sector to target vulnerable people and help to prevent fires in their home. In 2014 alone, the service undertook 27,206 home fire safety checks, 82% of which were to people aged over 65, representing the highest percentage in the country.

All 3 Services flagship approach to home safety has played a key role in helping to reduce preventable fire deaths and injuries over the past decade and involves combining fire safety checks with signposting residents to appropriate support from other agencies.

Gary Taylor, Assistant Chief Fire Officer with West Midlands Fire Service, added: "We are very proud to have been recognised by Sir Michael for our work in reducing health inequalities. We recognise the clear links between poor health and the risk of fire so tackling the cause of the causes is a long term investment in reducing the risk of fire.

"Over the past 10 years we have seen a dramatic fall in the number of house fires and fire deaths in no small measure due to our continued emphasis on the prevention activities that we now spend the majority of our time focusing upon. The trust we have in the community allows our frontline firefighters to go into more than 27,000 homes each year across the West Midlands which has had a positive impact on a wide range of health issues within our communities. As we implement our new ‘Safe and Well’ visits we aim to become an even more valuable asset as part of the wider public health workforce."

Sir Michael also launched his book The Health Gap and the Challenge of an Unequal World at the event and said "if 200,000 deaths were caused by a pollutant people would be on the streets marching to have it banned but the irony is health inequity kills 200,000 every year in the UK – that’s 550 lives per day".

A masterclass was also held on the day, where Sir Michael Marmot answered questions from representatives from the health sector and fire and rescue services.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan, of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, said: "It is fantastic to have achieved the Marmot Partnership Status. Our partnerships with health and social care organisations have been extremely important in helping us to target those most at risk from fire.

"Prevention work in our communities has been valuable in helping to keep vulnerable people safe from fire in their homes. We also recognise that there is so much more we could do when we cross the threshold of a vulnerable person’s home and we are really excited about the evolution of our Home Fire Safety Check into something even more beneficial to the communities we serve.

"Our prevention work has already proven to be incredibly valuable in helping to keep vulnerable people safe from fire. Over the past decade we have significantly reduced the number of accidental fire deaths and injuries in homes across Merseyside."

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