East Midlands firefighters driving ambulances and assisting in movement of dead bodies in coronavirus response
Firefighters across the East Midlands have begun to drive ambulances, deliver food and medicines, and move dead bodies to support their communities and other emergency services during the coronavirus pandemic.
The new areas of work have been agreed between the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and fire and rescue services in the East Midlands after a national agreement was reached between the union, the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), and national employers in March.
The FBU in the East Midlands has secured appropriate training and PPE for firefighters undertaking the work, while risk assessments for all three activities have been agreed on to ensure that firefighters’ health and safety remains paramount throughout the pandemic.
Some fire and rescue services have already begun to undertake the additional work, with firefighters in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire delivering food and medical supplies, while firefighters in Northamptonshire have begun moving the bodies of those who have died of coronavirus.
Firefighters in all five fire services in the East Midlands have begun training this week to drive ambulances in order to assist East Midlands Ambulance Service.
On 13 April, the FBU revealed that nearly 3,000 fire and rescue staff across the UK were having to self-isolate because of the virus.
Pressure placed on the government by the FBU has now seen COVID-19 testing made available to fire and rescue personnel, alongside NHS staff.
Ben Selby, FBU East Midlands Executive Council Member, said:
“This pandemic is a difficult time for people in the East Midlands and across the country. Firefighters are proud to step up and support their communities in an emergency, and during this crisis it’s no different.
“The FBU has been working hard to ensure that they are able to assist the response to coronavirus in any way they can without putting their health at risk. Any firefighter undertaking these additional roles can be confident that they will receive the support needed to carry out this work safely.
“Some tasks we have agreed to do won’t be pleasant, such as moving bodies, but we are experienced in these areas of work and are determined to get people across East Midlands through this."
Mark, FBU member and watch manager in Derbyshire, said:
“As the health crisis escalated, myself and other firefighters were determined to help our communities in any way we can.
“In Derbyshire, we’ve started delivering prescriptions to people in the community who are unable to collect them. The reaction from the people we’ve delivered to and from other members of the community has been incredibly humbling.
“I would like to say a huge thank you to East Midlands FBU officials who have worked tirelessly to ensure that we are able to carry out this work in a safe way and make a difference to so many people during this difficult time.”