More than 2,000 medical prescriptions and hundreds of food parcels have been delivered to the County’s most vulnerable by Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Firefighters and support staff alike have gone the extra mile, joining forces with local authorities, housing associations, charities, football clubs and fellow blue light colleagues to ensure those most at risk have not been forgotten. Staff from all areas of the Service volunteered for additional duties and have so far delivered medical prescriptions, food and essentials to those who are unable to leave their homes. They have worked with Liverpool City Council, Teardrops Charity, the Torus Foundation and many more to pack and distribute hundreds of food parcels for low income families.
In addition to the delivery of essential items, staff have also been carrying out ‘face fitting’ for North West Ambulance Service Staff and Critical Care Workers to ensure that they are able to keep safe whilst they are looking after others.
Correct fitting PPE is essential to those staff who are on the frontline. The Service is now seeking to use those skills to provide extra support within care home settings, recognising that they have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic.
MFRS staff have also volunteered to help the care for the deceased and morgue management if necessary.
The incredible work of MFRS staff has been highlighted on social media as part of the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) #ReadyWillingAble campaign.
Gary Oakford, Area Manager for Prevention at MFRS, said: “The response of our staff has been truly amazing in support of the wider community effort. As an active and engaged stakeholder to the Merseyside Resilience Forum, we were delighted to be able to support a variety of requests from stakeholders and valued partners.”
Throughout the pandemic, MFRS has maintained its 0800 731 5958 call centre to reassure vulnerable people, provide fire safety advice and signpost to other agencies where necessary. Vulnerable Persons Advocates have continued to visit those deemed most at risk, fitting smoke alarms where none are present, whilst of course adhering to social distancing.
Firefighters also volunteered for additional duties alongside their day-to-day firefighting operations, with some crews spending recent days working closely with the LFC Foundation and Red Neighbours scheme to deliver food to keyworkers within North West Ambulance Service and Fire Control. Even the Chief Fire Officer has got involved, refining his first aid skills in order to make himself available to respond to cardiac arrest calls. The Chief along with all of the Service’s Officers now carry defibrillators in their cars and are able to respond to cardiac arrests via the volunteering app, GoodSam.
In addition to his heightened first aid skills, Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan has been leading the Fire & Rescue Services’ National response to the pandemic, which has seen firefighters across the country delivering food, medicine, supporting coroners, and driving ambulances to support NHS colleagues.
This work has not replaced the day-to-day business of the fire & rescue service by any stretch. In fact, last week alone, MFRS’ Fire Control operators answered 435 emergency 999 calls, with crews responding to 338 incidents.
MFRS Arson Officers, including the Street Intervention Teams, continue to be hard at work on a daily basis, targeting areas of high demand for anti-social behaviour, crime and deliberate fire setting. Despite the current period of lockdown, deliberate fire setting continues to be a problem across Merseyside, with an increase in fly tipping resulting in a number of unnecessary deliberate fires. There has also been an increase in people carrying out controlled burns in their garden. MFRS has asked people to be considerate to their neighbours before burning any form of waste in their gardens.
Chief Garrigan said: “The way in which all of our staff – those in operational and non-operational roles – have stepped up during this crisis is incredible, I couldn’t be prouder, although not in the least bit surprising. Not only have our staff worked hard to maintain our emergency response, but they have gone above and beyond to ensure the lives of the communities we serve are protected, whether that be through offering potentially life-saving fire safety information, delivering vital medication or helping to distribute food.
"I would like to record my thanks and say how proud I am of every member of the Service, it has been an extremely difficult time for everyone involved.
"As a fire and rescue service, we are in the business of keeping people safe. That will never change, not even in the face of a global pandemic. Rest assured that Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service will continue to do everything it can to support the people of Merseyside, our key workers and our blue light colleagues.”
If you are concerned about fire safety in the home, or do not have working smoke alarms, please call 0800 731 5958.