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Fire fighters to modify operations to help most vulnerable in coronavirus precaution

PUBLISHED: 17:51 17 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:51 17 March 2020

Chief Fire Officer Mark Hardingham    Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Chief Fire Officer Mark Hardingham Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Fire fighters in Suffolk are to adapt all operations in a bid to protect the most vulnerable members of society during the coronavirus outbreak.

Training has been postponed, stations are being closed to community meeting and some homes visits have been cancelled to help prevent fire officers from becoming ill or from spreading the virus, known as COVID-19, to members of the public.

Despite the changes, Suffolk’s chief fire officer Mark Hardingham has reassured locals, confirming that the service will still respond to 999 calls.

He said: “Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service is continually monitoring the coronavirus situation so that we can keep our staff safe and continue to protect our communities.

“We will of course continue to respond to emergency 999 calls.

“We have stopped some work to minimise risks, including cancelling some home visits, some firefighter training and closing stations to community meetings and events.

“We are adapting our operations to continue to protect the most vulnerable members of society.

“We continue to follow the Government guidelines, the operational guidelines set out by the National Fire Chief’s Council and our own business continuity plans.”

MORE: Find out more about coronavirus in Suffolk here

The changes come as top union representatives call for further measures to be taken to help the fire service during the pandemic.

In a message to all fire and rescue services across the UK following Boris Johnson’s press conference at number 10, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack called for fire fighters to stop all non-essential work.

This includes school visits, community fire safety visits and inspections, exercises, public meeting and hazardous substance investigations.

MORE: Visit our coronavirus page here

He said: “The Fire Brigades Union is a strong advocate for improving community relations and for thoroughgoing fire safety inspection and 7(2)(d) inspections.

“However, given the imperative to ensure that reasonable steps are taken to minimise the risk to the public and to maximise the availability of firefighters who are fit and well to carry out vital emergency service delivery, we fully support those steps.

“Therefore, the FBU has concluded that, in the interests of public health and public safety, all fire and rescue services should cease all outside activities other than emergency response unless there is an immediate or imminent safety imperative to undertake an inspection or other such engagement.

“An example of such an immediate imperative would be to investigate a report of fire escape doors or routes being ‘locked or blocked’.”

MORE: Latest coronavirus figures revealed

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