By Eric White
FIREFIGHTERS from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service will be joining NHS staff on the frontline from tomorrow, to support them in their efforts against the coronavirus pandemic.
Ten firefighters, who are on-call firefighters at fire stations across Essex, will begin work as ambulance drivers, alongside East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) paramedics.
The move comes after an agreement was reached last week for fire service personnel nationally to support the work of the NHS during the crisis.
Jo Turton, Chief Fire Officer/ Chief Executive said: “I could not be prouder of our people – we saw about 90 colleagues come forward to volunteer to support our NHS colleagues. Even in these times of uncertainty, the one thing that never changes is their commitment and passion for helping others in need.
“For now, we’ll be proceeding with 10 firefighters, but there is potential to increase that in future, and we are open to exploring different options around this.
“It’s an excellent example of partnership working – we are one of the first fire and rescue services in the country to be pressing on with this initiative.
“And of course, it goes without saying that while this activity is taking place, we’ll always maintain our core functionality as a fire and rescue service.”
Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner said: “Essex is once again leading the way by working together to help our communities stay safe and provide the best possible service to the public at a very difficult and challenging time.
“The firefighters who have volunteered for this additional responsibility are a great example of the commitment and dedication shown across the service.”
Marcus Bailey, EEAST’s chief operating officer with EEAST, said: “We are very grateful to our blue light colleagues in the fire and rescue service for their kind offer and look forward to working closely with them to keep our patients, staff, volunteers and the wider public safe during this pandemic.
“Covid 19 represents an unprecedented challenge for all of us and we truly appreciate the fantastic support we have received from the fire service, the public, businesses and our other partners.”