UK: Firefighters’ coronavirus response agreement extended

As the UK continues to battle the coronavirus, the work of firefighters in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic may be extended until late August, following agreement between the Fire Brigades Union, the National Fire Chiefs Council and national employers.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU), National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and national employers recently agreed the extension to the national agreement stating that the virus “continues to be a risk in our communities”. The agreement allows firefighters to assist ambulance services, deliver vital supplies to the elderly and vulnerable, and move the bodies of the deceased.

Since then, a number of further activities have been agreed, including assembling PPE and training care home staff in infection, prevention and control. The work has now been extended to 15 July and could be extended until 26 August.

Covid-19 testing guidelines for fire and rescue personnel have also been agreed upon, requiring a test after three days of removal from detachment for coronavirus response duty. Staff will not be permitted to return to fire stations until they have tested negative.

Matt Wrack, FBU General Secretary, said: “You need only look at the horrific death toll in our care homes to see that this pandemic is not over yet. The government may be easing restrictions, but firefighters are still needed to respond to this serious threat.”

He added: “Firefighters’ work so far in this pandemic has been extraordinary and will have undoubtedly saved lives and helped to keep the NHS on its feet. The threat to our communities is still severe, so we’re doing what we can to ensure firefighters can continue helping them through this crisis.”

1, Firefighters at frontline