Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service “will continue to help however we can”

Chief Fire Officer Chris Lowther’s message to members of the public is that Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) “will continue to help however we can” in the region’s response to Covid-19.

The message comes after the findings of an independent inspection confirmed that the Service has continued to meet all of its statutory duties whilst carrying out additional activities to support communities throughout the pandemic and continuing to focus on staff safety and wellbeing.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) carried out the review in October, as part of a national inspection of how fire and rescue services are responding to the health crisis. The findings were published this morning, with a letter to each fire and rescue service setting out the assessment of their effectiveness.

CFO Lowther commented: “There’s no doubt that this has been a very challenging time for us, but I couldn’t be more proud of how we have risen to those challenges. First and foremost, we’re here to respond to emergencies and every single member of our team has played a part in making sure that we can continue to do so.

They have not only adapted to new ways of working in their primary roles, they have also stepped up to support our partners and communities – for example, by distributing PPE, delivering food parcels and sadly, assisting in the movement of bodies.”

The HMICFRS inspection found that the Service had prepared itself well for the situation and proactively took measures to ensure its resilience, including re-engaging recently retired firefighters to protect staffing levels. New safety measures at the Service’s training centre enabled the recruitment of two cohorts of new firefighters as planned, with some of the training procedures and risk assessments adopted by other fire and rescue services as examples of best practice.

CFO Lowther continued: “The safety of TWFRS employees has always been my first priority and this was recognised by HMICFRS, who highlighted our efforts to identify vulnerable groups early and put appropriate measures in place to protect the health and wellbeing of all staff.

We’re in the process of introducing routine coronavirus testing and all of our procedures, for both our statutory work and additional activities, are thoroughly risk assessed in collaboration with key stakeholders.

However, where it is safe to do so, we will continue to help however we can. From responding to emergencies to supporting our partners in delivering the Covid-19 vaccination programme, community testing and other work, we stand ready, willing and able.”

Read the letter in full.