Posted: Saturday 8th July 2017
F is for Fire Service
Recent tragedies in the country have highlighted just how important the fire service and its incredible firefighters are.
Tackling fires and responding to emergency calls is all in a day’s work for a firefighter.
In Hertfordshire, we are lucky to have 734 firefighters (which includes both wholetime and retained firefighters) ready to tackle any emergency in the county. From April 1 2016 to March 31 2017, Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service received a staggering 20348 emergency calls.
But many people may not realise the amount of community work firefighters also carry out.
Crews from Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service also have an important role highlighting fire safety messages, and often visit local schools and organisations to spread the word.
They also visit residents in their home through a pioneering Safe and Well Visits programme, of which approximately 7000 are carried out each year and refer them to other organisations if they need additional help.
Mark Burgess, a watch commander for Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, helps to coordinate the work firefighters do to keep residents safe.
“As well as being on call to deal with emergencies, I also carry out Safe and Well visits in residents’ homes,” he said. “I enjoy meeting members of the public and I feel good knowing that I’ve helped to make sure people remain healthy and safe.”
Mark, who has worked for the fire service for 17 years, said during the Safe and Well visits, his crews give advice to residents on safety.
The firefighters have been given extra training by our public health teams and now support Hertfordshire’s older and vulnerable residents with health issues, at the same time as carrying out a home fire safety check.
Firefighters are also equipped with the skills to identify potential health and wellbeing issues and where necessary will refer residents to relevant agencies for further support.
Mark said: “As well as checking fire safety in the home, our fire crews have been trained to give advice about how to stay well to vulnerable residents – including advice on keeping cool in the summer, eating and drinking properly, falls prevention, and avoiding loneliness – and, where necessary, will refer them to the specialist support services available.”
One of the highlights of Mark’s visits was when his team attended a small fire in a bungalow, in which the resident had fallen over and was unable to deal with the fire.
After putting out the fire, they booked the vulnerable woman in for a safe and well visit which led to a number of additional problems being uncovered. Thankfully, they have now put the woman in touch with various other organisations for assistance.
The fire service’s involvement in this case was praised by a friend of the woman involved, who sent a letter, saying:
“I would like to say a big thank you for not only attending the incident but also for your kindness and thoughtful consideration of her circumstances and mental state. You and your colleagues made a breakthrough with a genuine bridge of trust which has not been accomplished by even professional individuals.”
As well as Safe and Well visits, firefighters also visit schools to deliver safety messages.
On a typical day, fire crews will also spend time taking part in competence training sessions on any number of topics, scenarios and pieces of equipment. They will also have physical training sessions.
Find out more about the Safe and Well Visits programme where you can also request a visit for yourself or someone you know.
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