Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) have been recognized nationally for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, SFRS was praised for its positive contributions to the local community and commitment to the welfare of its staff.
In August 2020, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) was commissioned by the UK Home Secretary to examine how fire and rescue services are responding to the pandemic.
Effective command and control frameworks
We were impressed with how the service adapted and responded to the pandemic effectively"
In her report, Zoë Billingham, HM Inspector of Fire & Rescue Services, said of Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, “We were impressed with how the service adapted and responded to the pandemic effectively. The efficient use of its staff was notable, utilizing extra capacity and providing support and resource for remote and home working.”
She adds, “It provided support to Suffolk County Council (SCC) and the LRF, including advice, resources and effective command and control frameworks to co-ordinate its response.”
Zoë Billingham further stated, “The service communicated well with its staff throughout the pandemic, including issues relating to staff well-being. It also made sure all staff had the resources they needed to do their jobs effectively, including extra information and technology, and it put in place additional flexible working arrangements. Staff well-being was a clear priority for the service.”
Continuous response in COVID-19 period
Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) have continued to respond to emergency calls since the beginning of the global COVID-19 virus spread, with over 4,500 emergency calls received and attended since the first lockdown was announced in March 2020.
In addition to this, staff across the SFRS has been redeployed to support other departments in Suffolk County Council, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic spread. These include:
- Providing additional resource to colleagues in the Coroner’s Office.
- Setting up and administering the first booking system and phone line for testing key workers.
- In April 2020, around 30 firefighters volunteered and trained to work alongside paramedics to drive frontline emergency NHS (National Health Service) ambulances, in turn freeing up paramedics to care for patients.
- Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service teams have also helped to deliver food, essential items and medicine, as part of the ‘Home But Not Alone’ scheme.
Quick response to emergency incidents
Fires, road traffic collisions, rescues and flooding have not stopped because there is a global pandemic"
Dan Fearn, Temporary Chief Fire Officer at Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said “I am extremely proud of everyone who works for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service and I would like to thank each and every colleague for their professionalism and commitment to keep the communities of Suffolk safe.”
He adds, “Fires, road traffic collisions, rescues and flooding have not stopped because there is a global pandemic. All our teams have stepped up by continuing to respond to emergency incidents, while supporting our partners and colleagues across Suffolk. Like many organizations, we have had to adapt our ways of working so we can continue to operate safely.”
Efficient and timely fire safety and rescue services
Dan further stated, “We continued to safely recruit new members of our fire service team, train and develop our operational crews and, of course, ensure that we are there to help the most vulnerable in the county. Over Christmas and the New Year period, our operational crews and officers remained busy. On Christmas Eve and Day, a number of personnel assisted with a major flooding incident in Bungay, some of the worst flooding in the area in 50 years.”
He concludes, “It has been, and continues to be, a very challenging time due to COVID-19. But our teams across Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service are ready to respond to emergency calls and support their communities to overcome the virus. In the coming weeks, personnel will continue to assist the ambulance service and be ready to support our health colleagues where needed.”
Recognition from Her Majesty's Inspectorate (HMICFRS)
It echoes the ‘good’ rating which the Inspectorate awarded the Service just over a year ago"
Councilor Richard Rout, Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection at Suffolk County Council, said “I’m delighted for every member of Suffolk’s Fire and Rescue Service. To be commended by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate is what they deserve for going above and beyond their responsibilities, during such professionally and personally testing times.”
He adds, “It echoes the ‘good’ rating which the Inspectorate awarded the Service just over a year ago. That report did highlight some areas for us to work on, which I’m pleased to say colleagues have been focusing on ever since, to make our Service even stronger.”
Supporting staff in serving local communities
Richard Rout further said, “That is why the council’s Cabinet unanimously backed my proposal last year, to increase the service’s budget by £500,000 plus inflation. That increase totals close to £1 million and is helping to deliver the improvements identified in the report, alongside our existing plans for further investment, to keep Suffolk safe.”
Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service remains committed to support its firefighters in serving local communities in the fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic, while doing so in a safe and responsible way.