The Chief Fire Officer of Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, Darren Dovey, has published his annual report, which is a record of ‘a year like no other’ that showed the ‘fire service at its best’.
As the covid 19 pandemic took over the life of the country, the impact was felt across the fire service in many ways.
Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service used its expertise to take on roles in support of other agencies such as driving ambulances for the ambulance service, delivering medication to the vulnerable for community pharmacies and assisting the Local Resilience Forum with mortuary duties.
Between March 2020 and 2021, NFRS carried out 339 shifts of mortuary support, 1096 shifts with the ambulance service and 2959 pharmacy deliveries.
As well as supporting other agencies, NFRS continued to deliver its core functions of responding to and preventing fires and protecting the community, adapting the way it did its business to the need to be covid secure and to ensure the most vulnerable were prioritised.
Fire Protection Officers carried out audits remotely, focussing on priority areas such as care homes, schools and industry for whom working from home was not possible.
Prevention Team members continued to provide advice on the telephone and prioritised in-person visits to people at the highest risk from fire or the threat of arson.
Staffing levels were closely monitored to ensure that the Fire Service could continue to provide its 999 emergency response, with extra wellbeing support available to staff where needed. The NFRS maintained its response times of around 10 minutes and availability throughout the pandemic.
Darren Dovey said that while it was too early to gauge the long-term impact of the pandemic on incident trends, there had been fewer road traffic collisions and fewer fires during the lockdown period.
He said that lessons learned during the pandemic will be carried through to business as usual, as the Fire Service looks forward to the next year when it must embed learning from national incidents including the Grenfell fire and the Manchester Arena bombing; continue to strengthen its links with the new local authorities in Northamptonshire and embed further collaboration with Northamptonshire Police.
Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service already shares buildings with Northamptonshire Police, and has joint teams working on HR, Fleet, Estates and IT.
Chief Fire Officer Darren Dovey said: “This was a year like no other, when we got involved in tasks we hoped we would never have to carry out. Throughout the pandemic, we were ready and able to assist the county with whatever tasks were necessary to support other agencies and keep the community safe as well as maintaining our core role and keeping our staff safe and able to respond.
“Many of our staff volunteered for the extra duties we were asked to do, helping to ensure that lives were saved and the most vulnerable were helped. This last year has shown the Fire Service at its best and as Chief Fire Officer, I am immensely proud of all my staff and thank them for the role they have played.”
The Chief Fire Officer’s annual report is available here