Firefighters across the UK held a minute’s silence today in honour of the firefighters and people who lost their lives in an explosion in Beirut on Tuesday. Firefighters stood outside...
Everything you need to know about the new National Agreement during the COVID-19 pandemic and what it means for your role, your safety and your union.
Your questions answered
Advice and answers to your questions on coronavirus and the fire and rescue services.
What you need to know
COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called coronavirus.
The FBU has worked with the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and the local government fire and rescue service employers to agree a national framework for how firefighters will be able to respond to the crisis.
Firefighters are now permitted to:
- Assist ambulance services in some specified activities and drive ambulances;
- Deliver food and medicines to vulnerable people;
- In the case of mass casualties due to COVID-19, move dead bodies;
- Assist in face fitting masks to be used by frontline NHS staff and clinical care staff working with COVID-19 patients;
- Deliver PPE and other medical supplies to NHS and care facilities;
- Assist in taking samples for Covid-19 antigen testing;
- Drive ambulance transport not on blue-lights (excluding known Covid-19 patients) to outpatient appointments or to receive urgent care;
- Provide instruction for non-Service personnel to drive ambulances (not on blue-lights);
- Assemble single-use face shields for NHS and care staff;
- Packaging and repackaging food supplies for vulnerable people;
- Transfer of known or suspected COVID-19 patients to and from Nightingale hospitals;
- Transfer of non-COVID-19 patients to and from Nightingale hospitals;
- Delivery of special infection, prevention and control (IPC) training packages to care home staff;
- Training care home staff to deliver special infection, prevention and control (IPC) training packages to their care home colleagues.
The measures are temporary to respond to the coronavirus outbreak and will be in place until 15 July. The Tripartite Group have raised concerns about risk assessments varying between brigades. National risk assessments will now be produced for all fourteen agreed activities, to be implemented locally by fire and rescue services. If successful, the agreement will be extended until 26 August.
New duties must be subject to a risk assessment, training if needed, and appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Firefighters and control staff provide a core emergency service and need to be protected from COVID-19 infection as far as possible.
We are aware that a significant number of staff are in self-isolation and are therefore unable to work. We have called on all governments to prioritise testing of fire and rescue personnel for coronavirus, along with colleagues in other emergency services.
We have also secured measures to prevent cross-infection between fire and rescue personnel and the public, agreed with the NFCC and employers. Services should now:
- Minimise prevention activity, such as home-safety checks, except for where deemed necessary by a risk assessment
- Avoid visiting hospitals, care and nursing homes or any other premises where vulnerable people reside, except for fire and other emergencies. Any requests for non-emergency visits by homeowners or premises staff will need to be agreed by service management
- Continuously review the types of incidents attended by firefighters in line with the associated risk of infection
This came after the FBU called for services to cease all non-emergency interactions with the public where there is not an immediate or imminent safety imperative.
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