Service Transformation

27.03.20

Firefighters given additional roles to support coronavirus crisis

In addition to their role responding to core emergencies, Firefighters will be able to deliver food and medicines, drive ambulances and retrieve dead bodies to provide additional support during the coronavirus crisis.

A new and unprecedented agreement between the Fire Brigade Union (FBU), fire chiefs and Fire and Rescue Employers confirms these new measures, the first time all three stakeholder groups have made a joint commitment to the national crisis.

New roles include delivering essential items such as food and medicine to the most vulnerable in society, driving ambulances and lending support to ambulance staff and collecting dead bodies if mass causalities occur.

Part of the agreement is that firefighters must continue to carry out their core responsibilities such as responding to fires and traffic collisions.

These new roles will be carried out for an initial two-month period, with the possibility of being extended or shortened If all organisations agree.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said:

“We face a public health crisis unparalleled in our lifetimes. The coronavirus outbreak is now a humanitarian emergency and firefighters rightly want help their communities.

“To get through this, we must find ways to work together with other emergency services. Firefighters are fantastic at teamwork, are experienced in driving emergency vehicles and, as a service rooted in the community, may be best placed to deliver essential items to the most vulnerable.

“Many fear the loss of life in this outbreak could be overwhelming– and firefighters, who often handle terrible situations and incidents, are ready to step in to assist with body retrieval.

“Firefighters and control staff have always stepped in when the public has been in danger and this crisis is no different. The strain on all emergency services will be great, but we can and will get through it together.”

Weekly meetings will take place to monitor risk and addition requests and additional training and the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) will be provided if necessary.

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