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Part-time firefighters in Withernsea safety campaign

11 February 2014

Part-time firefighters have helped to protect hundreds of residents identified as vulnerable to serious household fires in the Withernsea area during eight months of intensive work.

Humberside Fire and Rescue Service has a policy of offering home fire safety visits at addresses thought to be at high, or very high, risk of fire.

The work is often carried out by full-time firefighters or dedicated community safety staff. However, Withernsea is covered by part-time ‘retained’ staff and several volunteered to increase their prevention role in addition to their operational role of providing emergency cover.

They were given special training before the scheme was launched in May last year and since then have visited more than 600 residents to offer help in protecting them from accidental fires.

For some that could mean verbal advice, but, where necessary, HFRS can offer other practical help, including the installation of smoke detectors and other measures to reduce opportunities for fires to start. In the most difficult cases, domestic sprinkler systems can be installed. Since the work started, statistics show there has been a reduction in the number of fires reported in the area and figures are currently below the expected level for that area.

Humberside Fire and Rescue Service Community Safety Manager Steve Hellewell said the firefighters involved wanted to contribute further to their community.
“The amount of time and flexibility these members of staff have offered is really commendable. They have carried out this work in addition to their primary employment, their family commitments and the time they are available for operational duties,” he said.

Households deemed to be at most risk from fires are identified by analysing statistics gathered by the service and partner organisations. The system has been proven over several years to have a high accuracy rate.

The retained firefighters involved work in pairs and the work is cost effective because they travel together rather than in a fire appliance with a full crew on board.

“They plan their own routes and do the work to their own timescale. They are making a real difference in the area,” he said.

“This work means they are out and about and visible in the community, so people are seeing more of the fire service and getting to know that we are dedicated to preventing fires from happening as well as responding when they have. That has to be a good thing.”

Although the service identifies those who may benefit from a home safety visit, those who believe they may qualify can use the freephone 0300 3038242 number to be considered for a visit.