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.
The agreement outlines what activities firefighters can undertake in the response to the crisis – the introduction of any of the activities must be agreed locally before being introduced. It is vital that all members support local FBU officials to make sure the agreement is implemented properly.
An update to this agreement was made on 16 April.
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 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.
Members should be aware that services are forbidden from taking these temporary measures as permanent changes to employment terms and conditions.
New areas of work must be subject to a risk assessment, training if needed, and appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Members with any concerns about their brigade’s operations in relation to coronavirus, such as around issues of health and safety, should get in touch with their local official immediately.