Fire service praised for COVID-19 response

GREATER Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) has been praised for being ready, willing and able to keep communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.   

A report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) published on Friday 22 January, examines how fire and rescue services have responded to the pandemic.   

Inspectors have praised GMFRS for supporting Greater Manchester’s response whilst maintaining its prevention, protection and emergency response services under unique and challenging circumstances.    

This includes:   

  • Swiftly implementing changes to how it operates, communicating well with staff throughout the pandemic and making sure all staff had the resources they need to do their jobs effectively. This has included providing additional ICT equipment and putting in place new flexible working arrangements.   
  • Deploying non-operational staff, community volunteers, and retired firefighters to support other blue light and public services in the COVID-19 response, including delivering PPE, face fitting for masks, and assisting the local COVID-19 track and trace programme.   
  • Continuing to respond to fires and other emergencies with firefighters dealing with some significant fires during the pandemic. The Service also supported the establishment of the Nightingale Hospital in Manchester.   
  • Introduced the option of a safe and well visit by telephone with firefighters making face-to-face visits to fit smoke alarms and offer other preventative measures to vulnerable residents if needed.     

GMFRS Chief Fire Officer, Dave Russel, said: “Keeping our communities safe is the core purpose of GMFRS, and I’m proud that we have been able to maintain this whilst stepping up to support Greater Manchester’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That this has also been recognised nationally by HMICFRS is testament to the hard work of staff and firefighters across GMFRS.   

“It has been a challenging few months, and there will be further challenges ahead. But whilst we will consider the findings in this report and build on the learnings of the last year, this cannot take away from the passion and commitment GMFRS staff have shown throughout the pandemic, going above and beyond to keep people safe.”  

Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire, Bev Hughes, said: “This is a welcome report that highlights the challenges and the vital contribution GMFRS has made to the pandemic response. I want to thank staff and firefighters for their hard work and willingness to adapt and take on additional duties to keep people safe during this time.   

“We may be in the midst of a pandemic, but fires and other emergency incidents still demand a robust response – the current flooding threat is an example of this. Despite this, GMFRS and partners across Greater Manchester have continued to step up to the challenge and that should be commended.  

“I want to thank HMICFRS for highlighting the positive work carried out by fire and rescue services, and I will work with the Chief Fire Officer to consider the learnings identified in the report.” 

22/01/2021 09:44 AM