You may have wondered what’s happening with firefighters and the Coronavirus response.
Over the last few months, UK firefighters have been going above and beyond the call of duty, volunteering in massive numbers to help in the effort to contain the Coronavirus outbreak.
Earlier in the year when the pandemic began, many normal firefighter operations were scaled back, and some duties like community speaking and home visits were suspended temporarily. However, that didn’t mean that firefighters were given time to relax – many of them (along with station support staff) stepped up to help with overstretched public and emergency services.
This included driving ambulances (who were receiving record numbers of calls), delivering PPE to frontline staff and taking food and medicine to vulnerable people.
Firefighters in Northamptonshire alone clocked up an incredible 700 extra hours in June!
A slightly more upsetting part of these duties for firefighters and the Coronavirus response involved removing the bodies of those who had passed away from the virus from their homes, in a safe and sensitive manner. Dealing with challenging and sometimes harrowing situations is all part of the firefighter role.
This involved the introduction of new training and risk assessment. Before firefighters took on the new tasks, they had to undertake additional psychological training, which covered building emotional resilience, dealing with situations with compassion and the dangers of ‘burnout’. Access has also been provided to a round the clock counselling service for those who need it.
As you’ll have been aware from the news, there’s also been an increased amount of domestic fires to attend to, as well as cases of malicious arson, or wildfires due to people trying to cook and eat outdoors during the incredibly hot days we’ve experienced.
Exmouth emergency services have had to deal with a spate of suspected arson attacks, with five blazes in a fortnight this past month.
With people spending more time in their homes the risks have increased with fires – appliances and electrical running constantly, more cooking going on in the home, risks from candles and open flames from those cultural groups having to restrict their prayer and worship to the home…the list goes on and on.
False alarms resulting in callouts have also been on the increase, particularly with controlled burns in gardens and properties where the neighbours have panicked and reported seeing smoke.
BBQs in the home have also been cited as a big risk – Amazon had to suspend sales of their popular ‘balcony barbecues’ from sale after they were linked to hundreds of fires – particularly in the London area where London Fire Brigade confirmed there is an increased risk from the amount of properties with limited access to outdoor space.
The Fire Service always works closely with the other UK emergency services in times of crisis, and firefighters across the country have been universally praised for their amazing response helping ensure the safety of the public and alleviating pressure on other essential services.