Prevention is better than a cure
In much the same way applying sun-cream to prevent sunburn is more effective than applying after-sun to soothe it, the work of the FRS always aims to prevent damage, loss or injury from occurring in the first place.
There are areas of Community Fire Safety work which become more relevant during the summer months. For example, water safety becomes a much more prevalent issue.
As the schools break for the summer holiday and the temperatures increase, so does the appeal of open water sources. As a result, you may expect to see FRS crews at popular swimming spots warning of the dangers of open water.
Throw another shrimp on the barbie
Of course, summer wouldn’t be summer without playing undercooked sausage roulette with a barbeque. With an increase in the use of both permanent and disposable barbeques comes an increase in the incidence of fire.
Education around the correct use and disposal of barbeques and their associated fuels becomes a top priority for firefighters. They have to become extra vigilant on their home fire safety visits and spot when a tired-looking, one-wheeled gas barbeque is dragged from the shed to have the cobwebs wiped off.
A friendly tale
My colleagues will tell you I’m like a broken record with a very short track listing but there are a few experiences I like to dazzle and amuse my audiences with when conducting CFS activities during the summer months.
For example, I’ve attended a handful of fires caused by shaving/make up mirrors left too close to a window causing sunlight to be refracted onto material throughout the day- long enough for the materials to then ignite.
Likewise, I’ve attended many Road Traffic Collisions where drivers have cited glaring sunshine as the cause of the collision. It’s important that when firefighters do engage with their public that their message in succinct, clear and relevant so there would be very little credit in me lecturing members of the public on chimney fires whilst they all have their windows and doors wide open.
It is true that the work of the Fire and Rescue Service is by its very nature continual but it would be ignorant not to acknowledge seasonal trends and address and mitigate for them.
Keep cool and carry on
Although it is important for firefighters to account for summer and the challenges/changes it brings, they must also carry on with their core, day to day work. This may include inspections of buildings, people’s homes or fire hydrants, planned training events, mandatory refresher training etc. Firefighters need to take into account how much more taxing these tasks will be in the summer climate.
A firefighter is expected to respond to any type of incident at any given moment and so must remain well-hydrated, adequately rested and energised enough in order to do so.
This is not taken lightly and requires a great level of personal discipline. Sometimes easing back on the physicality of a drill or not carrying out fitness training until much later in the day can pay dividends.