Starting today, Norfolk firefighters will be working on the frontline alongside East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) paramedics.
All of the 62 staff involved are employed as on-call firefighters across the county, and they responded to a plea by Chief Fire Officer Stuart Ruff to support the NHS during the current covid-19 pandemic.
The firefighters are already blue-light trained emergency fire appliance drivers (EFAD) with C1 category licences and will drive frontline emergency NHS ambulances alongside EEAST paramedics.
Two of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service’s driving instructors are already using one of the service’s non-operational lorries to move NHS supplies around the county to ensure PPE equipment and ventilators are in the right places to support NHS colleagues in their duties.
The move to the frontline work follows a national agreement to use firefighters across the country to support the work of the NHS.
CFO Ruff said: “We were asked to support EEAST and have been in discussions to find out what their needs are and how we can support them, without compromising our own emergency response on the frontline. I was pleased to see so many of our staff volunteer their services to our blue light colleagues. We have considered all the offers and at this stage we are able to release 62 of our on-call staff.
“Whilst all of this activity is occurring, we also continue to maintain our core functionality for firefighting and rescue to the public and this will not be compromised.
Marcus Bailey, 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.
“We would urge people to continue to play their part in helping the NHS by taking extra care of themselves, only going out for essential items, observing advice about hand-washing and maintaining social distancing.”